Jennifer Poff Cooper
It all started in Germany with Carl Pauli’s great-great grandfather, Joseph Pauli, who was the Oberlehrer (senior teacher) in his hometown during the mid to late 1800s.
Joseph’s son, Clemens Pauli, was also a teacher and would have succeeded his father as the senior teacher had he not been killed in World War I.
Now Carl Pauli has been working for Montgomery County Public Schools for 27 years. Currently the Director of Secondary Education for MCPS, Pauli has previously served the district as teacher, assistant principal and principal.
Pauli’s favorite job was being a classroom teacher.
“When I student taught, I realized that there was an art to teaching – it was a natural talent that I could develop with practice,” he said. “I had always been good at many things, but for the first time in my life, I felt that I had found something at which I could be the best.”
Pauli obtained his BS from Virginia Tech in Biology and Education then later earned a MS in Educational Leadership from Radford University.
What sparked his interest in education?
“I honestly just thought it would be fun to teach high school,” he said. “I had enjoyed my own high school experience very much, and I knew that having engaging and energetic teachers is what made my high school education great.”
Meanwhile, his wife Theresa Pauli had wanted to be a teacher since she was a little girl.
“I have always loved children – teaching was a natural fit for me,” she said.
She graduated from Virginia Tech with a BA in Elementary Education.
After student teaching at Shawsville Elementary and Shawsville Middle School, Theresa Pauli was offered a second grade position at Shawsville Elementary School. “My student teaching experiences made me fall in love with the Shawsville Community, so I was thrilled to take a teaching position there,” she said.
Theresa Pauli took a break from public education to raise her family, twins Joseph and Rebecca and then three years later Rachel.
During that time, her children attended preschool at St. Paul United Methodist Church, so when a position opened up, she jumped at the chance to teach there. She remained a teacher at St. Paul Preschool for 12 years.
She shared, “I always knew I’d return to public education at some point. When our youngest began her freshman year at JMU [James Madison University] to become a teacher herself, I knew it was perfect timing to go back to the public school classroom. It was a homecoming going back to the Shawsville/Elliston community where I began my career. Teaching kindergarten has always been a lifelong dream, so I was glad to have that opportunity [at Eastern Montgomery Elementary School].”
Carl Pauli said he told Theresa, as she reentered public education, that even though she would notice many changes in the education profession, children’s needs have not changed.
Their daughter, Rebecca Pauli Fore, took a slightly different path. She studied cosmetology at Christiansburg High School, and upon graduation immediately went on to New River Community College to pursue a degree in Business Management.
She said, “When I discovered my hidden desire to go into the educational field, I took classes through JMU to pursue my teaching license.”
Fore’s first job actually started her senior year of high school. She worked in a salon in downtown Christiansburg for five years.
“Although I had a very successful career working at Robin & Co.,” she said, “when I heard about the job-opening at CHS for cosmetology teacher, I was very interested.
I was reminded of all of the amazing memories I had as a student cosmetologist at CHS. What started as an idea quickly evolved into an aching desire to become the CHS cosmetology teacher. Especially when former cosmetology teacher, Mrs. [Selena] Ratliff had so much faith in my abilities to do it.”
Ironically, Fore and her mother started teaching at MCPS the same year and even went through new employee orientation together.
Fore said, “I can most definitely say that my parents influenced my decision to apply for the job with MCPS. Growing up I have always heard nothing but positive things about being an employee for MCPS, along with how rewarding it was to be in the educational world.”
Fore loves working with teens. She had previously enjoyed mentoring them through a girls’ Bible study group and has been a church youth leader with her husband. She said, “My favorite aspect of being an MCPS employee is hands down the kids and the real relationships that I have with them.”
Carl Pauli said, “My advice to Rebecca was to remember that students learn best from teachers who they know sincerely care about them. Not all students come to school having all of their basic needs met, and a teacher needs to recognize and help meet those needs. Then, students need to feel safe and welcomed before they can learn. Loving the kids and giving them your best every day are still the most important things.”
Concurred Theresa Pauli, “I have always told my children that forming and building relationships with students is so important to teaching. Relationships first and then the teaching will fall into place.”
Fore recalls that the best career advice her parents gave was “to simply love and enjoy what I do, and to do the best that I possibly could at it. Growing up I always saw my parents going above and beyond in their jobs, but enjoying every moment of it.”
When the Pauli family gets together, they “talk shop” all the time. According to Theresa Pauli, “We love to share stories with one another of our experiences in the classroom and in our schools. Carl and Becca share teaching strategies for older students, and I always have humorous classroom stories of my kindergartners.”
Carl Pauli added, “Theresa and I couldn’t be more proud that two of our children have decided to be educators. Theresa and I have always been very happy in our jobs, and I guess they saw how much we enjoyed teaching. We are honored to have them be our legacy to the profession and to MCPS!”