Katrina Paradis is following in the footsteps of a teacher who made a difference in her own life.
"My first grade teacher and principal of Holy Name Catholic School was Sister Connie Beiriger," said Paradis, "and I was her go-to girl to assist my classmates. … Sister Connie expected us to accept our classmates unconditionally. She instilled in us the idea that all students can learn and should be given the opportunity to do so without judgment and without restrictions."
Paradis creates a classroom that is fun and pushes students of all abilities to improve. Her students create their own Usher homes while studying "Fall of the House of Usher" during Gothic literature. They research and write letters to the editor for publication and use technology like Animoto, Glogster and Prezi for projects.
Exposing students to art and literature also is important to Paradis. Young adult novelist Chris Crutcher has conducted a two-day writing workshop. Hip-hop artist Cash Hollistah, Paradis' former student, analyzed rap music with students and challenged them to write their own raps.
According to a former student, "Every day was an exciting adventure of literature, essays, discussions and projects. The atmosphere in her classroom matches her personality: bright, energetic and colorful yet relaxed and educational all at the same time."
Wrote a colleague, "Her caring attitude extends out of the classroom in the way she supports students in all of their activities."
One former student credits Paradis with helping him through his freshman year. He was taking a class from Paradis that was sophomore level, and he’d lost his brother in a tragic accident shortly before the start of school.
"Her zeal for life, her loving attitude and her genuine remarks to me about my situation made that year much more navigable," he wrote. "And with her encouragement, I was able to grow as a person as well as a student."
A graduate of Shawnee Mission West High School, Paradis earned her bachelor's degree in education from The University of Kansas and her master's of education from Kansas State University.