Career change led nurse to become career academy educator

Published 9:00 am Saturday, November 6, 2021

Jane Pauley came to THINC Academy after working as both a registered nurse and college professor at LaGrange College. After being recruited by THINC’s principal, Dr. Chris Williams, she made the transition to high school educator.

“When we first started THINC Academy, she was actually my first choice as who I wanted to hire for our health care program … And I was like a kid at Christmas, because I knew what she put into everything that she did,” Williams said. “I knew that coming here, she would take that same passion that she displayed over there, and she would help these kids to understand what it is nursing is really all about.”

This is a sentiment that Pauley herself shares as she tries to prepare her students for a career in the healthcare field and show them the wide array of options that they have.

“I would say that what I want to accomplish each day is that these students learn, are able to explore healthcare careers, and make some decisions about their future while they help develop themselves as individuals,” Pauley said.

The stark contrasts between nursing and teaching does not come without its challenges, a fact that Pauley is well aware of.

“My teaching job, you can’t really compare apples and oranges like nursing and teaching … but if I were going to I would say that this job has been as challenging as any nursing job I’ve had in a different way,” Pauley said.

However, Pauley said that if she had to do her life over again, she would not do nursing or teaching, but instead work as a missionary.

“I like to do mission projects … if I were to do my life again I might be a missionary,” Pauley said.

She even manages to integrate Sole Hope, one of the mission project’s she is most passionate about, into her classroom. HOSA sponsored the service project at THINC to help make the shoes for the organization. Sole Hope aids people in Uganda by providing them with shoes made from recycled jeans to prevent jiggers from getting into their feet.

“This is really near and dear to me because my daughter Kim and I three summers ago, we took a trip to Uganda to see Sole Hope because she has mission on her heart,” Pauley said.

“So we got to see these being made, we got to see them on children, and we got to work in the jigger clinics.”

The young adults she teaches, however, are grateful that she chose to come teach them. Ansley Shuman and Bethany Cullwell, students of Pauley, say that she pushes them to be the best they can be, while also lending understanding when needed.

“She really thinks highly of me, so let me improve so I can do better,” Cullwell said.

“She just kind of puts herself in our shoes and definitely understands the situation and makes it known that she cares about us and is willing to do all she can for us,” Shuman said.

Shuman said that she is grateful for Pauley as she credits her for where she has gotten today, including her position as HOSA president, which she has held the last two years.

“If I had to tell her something, I would just say thank you for pushing me … She has definitely pushed me to where I am,” Shuman said. “I got the courage from Mrs. Pauley pushing me to do it. I got the courage to do all these other things.”

Pauley allows open communication in her classroom and focuses on student’s individual growth as they work through what they want to do.

“My teaching philosophy when I walk in every day is I want the students to have a good experience related to healthcare, related to their own personal growth, communicating with each other (and) with me,” Pauley said.

Pauley said that she is honored to be nominated, but that at the end of the day she must thank her team for helping her get to where she is today.

“It’s an honor. It’s humbling because I know that I couldn’t do what I do without the whole place,” Pauley said. “Honestly, our team of three is fabulous.”

Williams said Pauley is deserving of the nomination and that he sees it every day in the passion she displays for her job and the kids she works with.

“She’s the right package for what, not just for what we need, but (for) what the kids need,” Williams said. “She’s got a passion for the career. She’s got a passion for the kids. She got a passion for teaching. There’s no loss there. I mean, everybody’s winning.”