by Shannon Paterson, special to IBR
Sometimes the best ideas are nothing more than a note on a napkin. It’s a communication concept Paula Kellerer learned while eating at a restaurant with her father—an electrical engineer—as a young teenager. “When he explained later, he said, ‘I often (write notes on napkins) when I manage my folks so they aren’t intimidated by the idea and can dream without worrying about the barriers,’” says Kellerer. “I’ve always remembered that.”
Her father’s lesson has helped Kellerer to break barriers throughout her career in education. Perhaps her proudest accomplishment, she says, is creating New Horizons Dual Language School and Ridgeline Alternative High School while working as Chief Academic Officer for the Nampa School District. New Horizons promotes literacy in both English and Spanish, and Ridgeline serves students who struggle in a traditional classroom setting. Both schools were founded without the use of bond money or additional budget from the school district.
“We created those out of resources that were already internal to the district, and they met the need for a group of students that don’t often have voices in our community, “says Kellerer.
Today, in addition to her duties as Northwest Nazarene University’s Education Department chair, she also is program director for the Education Specialist and Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership degree. The doctoral program, which is NNU’s fist, is showing a great deal of promise, according to Kellerer.
“We’ve got a great cohort of folks who are getting ready to sit their chairs for their dissertation committee. So we’re in a good place.”
Kellerer also directs the EDS Superintendency program, which was recently evaluated by the Idaho State Department of Education and approved at the TARGET level—the very highest and there were no recommendations for improvement.
Leaving the Nampa School District in 2010 was a difficult decision for Kellerer because of her commitment to public education. But she loves her work at NNU because of the opportunity it affords her to impact many classrooms by training the teachers of tomorrow.
“We often say that the most important people in our classroom at the University are the people sitting in front of us, “says Kellerer. “But, it’s students who they’ll impact when they go into their classrooms and into their schools as educational leaders.”