Described by principal Dennis Devorick as “a very caring, compassionate teacher who goes above and beyond to help all students,” Janna Padula is Carolina Forest Elementary School’s teacher of the year.
Padula, who has six children – two of whom are students at CFES - between 6 and 32 years old, and also has a second-grade classroom, says “everything revolves around the kids” whether at home or at school.
She says she strives to do for her students the same things she does for her own children.
“My goal is to continue to teach them and make a difference. I want to help them learn as much as they can.”
Padula and her husband Dan, a building supervisor with Beazer Homes, live in The Farm. When they’re not working, they enjoy beach time, trips to Massachusetts to visit family, and “no matter how old they get, the children’s favorite place is Disney.”
The family attends Our Lady of the Sea Church and Padula says between work and getting her own kids to their sports and other activities, there’s very little time beyond that.
Time, she says, is her biggest challenge because there’s just never enough of it.
“Time to plan and make sure the lessons go as I hoped and having everything done ahead of time” isn’t always easy.
The educator says she knew she wanted to teach as early as when she was in junior high school. She shadowed her mother’s friend, a special ed teacher, and knew on the first day that teaching would be her ideal job.
She’s been teaching long enough – 24 years – to have a student teacher helping her who was once her second-grade student.
“It’s fun, it’s come full circle,” she says.
Padula says second graders need a lot of love, and that “If they’re happy to be here, you’ve won the battle.
“Everything else comes later. If they enjoy being here, you can teach them anything.”
Having taught several elementary school grades, Padula says the second-grade classroom is her favorite grade to teach.
“The kids have the hang of reading and math and just need a little fine tuning and a push.”
Teaching has changed, Padula says, from the more than two decades ago when she started teaching.
“The first few years, before state standards, if you wanted to spend September learning about apples, you could.
“Lesson plans were much more simple, and there was more freedom to teach what you taught and how you taught.
“The standards help,” she says. “There are pacing guides and we can add our own personal way of teaching, but it is different.
“This isn’t a come in at 7 and leave at 3 job, but I love what I do, this is my happy place.”