_Featured Profiles


Teacher of teachers

What is your teaching philosophy?
“I believe that all students bring unique experiences, perceptions, and abilities to the classroom. These differences shape who they are and how they interpret the material being presented. I believe in embracing, not stifling, these differences in my students. My teaching philosophy is based on the constructivist learning theory. I believe that it is my role to create and maintain a classroom environment that allows students to construct, deconstruct and reconstruct their learning in alignment with content that I present.”

How are you involved on campus besides teaching?
“I’m the chair of my department, so I get to work with all the faculty and students in the education department. I’ve participated in Antioch twice. I’m on the EPC (Educational Policy Change) Committee and I was on the Football Committee. I try to attend as many sporting events and performances as I can.”

What is your professional involvement outside of Clarke?
“I am the secretary of the Iowa Council of Exceptional Children, the leading special education organization in the country. Each state has its own chapter and I am the secretary of the Iowa chapter. I present at the National Professional Development School and try to present at at least one professional development conference each year. I am also on the advisory committee of Table Mound Elementary School.”

What is the most interesting class you teach at Clarke?
“I teach five mornings a week at a professional development school at Table Mound. We teach a little over 15 hours a week there. The thing that’s interesting about that class is that our classroom isn’t on the Clarke campus; it’s in a local school. So when you walk into Table Mound, there’s a college classroom. I get to watch my students practice being teachers; I teach them the content and the pedagogy on how to teach something, and then they go out and practice it, and I get to observe them and give them feedback. The other interesting part about that is that I co-teach with another professor in the education department, which is cool because it makes me a better teacher to be able to co-teach with people.”

What has been your greatest experience here at Clarke?
I have enjoyed watching teachers develop in Clarke's Education PDS program. It is amazing to meet students as freshman or sophomores and then years later place future students in their classrooms for observation! It is rewarding to watch students learn and grow as they become excellent teachers.

Why did you choose Clarke?
“I started at Clarke as an adjunct and I loved the sense of community; everyone was welcoming. I loved that the atmosphere was challenging but encouraging for students. The faculty know the students and the students know the faculty; students aren’t numbers at Clarke. It’s the same with faculty. Everyone is part of a greater community.”

What is something that you enjoy about the campus?
“I love that when I walk through the halls, everyone says ‘hi,’ and most people know each other by name. I like that as a faculty member, and I like that the students aren’t getting lost in the crowd. I like that sense of everyone working together for a common good. I’ve been here for 10 years and the time has just flown by. I look back and think of all the students and faculty I’ve had the privilege of working with for the past 10 years. I feel very privileged, but I also feel amazed that time went that quickly.”

What should incoming students know about your department/classes?
“In the education department, we make sure that students get the endorsements they need. We make sure that they get more hours of hands-on experience than the state requires, and we make sure that they are confident and competent going into their first job. We have excellent faculty in the education department that are committed to making them the best teachers they can be.”

 Paula S

Paula Schmidt
Chair and Associate Professor of Education 


QUOTE: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

HOBBIES: Reading, traveling, spending time with family and friends

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