Teresa Pavloff teaches kindergarten at Edgewood Elementary School in Michigan City.
Prior to coming to Michigan City Area Schools in 2001, she taught for two years in both the Westville and Duneland school systems as a substitute teacher.
"My passion is teaching our youngest learners, so I have been fortunate to teach kindergarten for my entire 17 year career in Michigan City," said Pavloff. "I love watching how our children grow and learn during their kindergarten year. They are so open, curious and creative, and most come in with an excitement for learning that is contagious."
One of Pavloff's favorite things about teaching kindergarten is watching her students' faces when they discover they can do something for the first time.
"There are many, many firsts in kindergarten," she said. "There is so much pride beaming from their faces, and I feel that pride as well knowing that I helped them on their learning journey."
Pavloff said she also loves how observant her students are, explaining they notice everything around them from a storm brewing outside to whether or not she is wearing makeup or a new pair of shoes.
She was a stay at home mom for a few years with her two daughters, which she says she was lucky to be able to do. Once they went to school Pavloff got involved as a classroom volunteer, church volunteer, school volunteer and more — the common thread was working with children.
She graduated Rogers High School in Michigan City, but for many reasons, did not have the opportunity to pursue a college education after high school. Her sister-in-law, Debbie Boone, is a teacher and did her student teaching at Edgewood. Her brother, Dr. Rory Allen Boone, is also a Michigan City educator at the high school.
"After watching him follow his passion for education and getting a second degree while working and raising four children, I was inspired to take the leap as well," she said.
Pavloff's youngest was still a pre-schooler, but she said she knew the time was right to pursue a degree of her own.
She had originally wanted to teach art, or middle school math, but neither degree was offered at PNC, so she entered the elementary education program instead and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. It never occurred to her that she would love kindergarten, but after she spent a couple weeks substitute teaching at that level, she knew that it was where she wanted to be. Ultimately she returned to PNC for another year to earn an endorsement specifically in kindergarten.
When an opening for a kindergarten teacher was posted for MCAS, she jumped at the opportunity.
"Dr. Radford hired me that day, and I spent my first year splitting my time between Niemann and Edgewood," Pavloff said. "At the end of the year, I was given the opportunity to return to Edgewood as a full-time teacher, and I have never looked back."
Pavloff said she cares for each of her students as if they were her own children.
"I spend more than six hours of each day with them and whether they succeed or fail at some task, I take it personally," she said. "I have had so many wonderful opportunities as a Michigan City educator — from receiving local grants from the Unity foundation that support my students, to outside grants that have helped me grow as a teacher, to professional growth opportunities both locally and out of state, and extra-curricular activities that have allowed me to share my artistic passion with all the students at Edgewood. Being a teacher has tremendous challenges, and those challenges grow every year, but I could never imagine doing anything else with my life that is as rewarding as teaching."