MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Throughout Paula Diedrich’s 28 years in education, middle school students have come to her to learn various subjects, most recently English and language arts.

“I’ve always been at the middle school level,” said Diedrich, eighth grade classroom teacher, Bothwell Middle School. “So, I started at Graveraet when that was a middle school. I taught six years there. When they started merging schools, I was one of the first to come over to Bothwell.”

Diedrich is molding the minds of future high school students.

“My favorite parts of the job are the kids,” said Diedrich. “Most teachers will talk about that ‘lightbulb’ moment, but I also love middle schoolers because they’re quirky and I really like teaching kids skills beyond just the right answer. So, I like to make them think and think outside the box sometimes. I love when I can hear from a student as I did this morning. We looked at the person’s grades from first working period, and then we looked at where they are now. You could just see the smile because they’ve learned some strategies on how to be successful across the board and not just in one class.”

Diedrich doesn’t just care about her students inside the classroom. Their overall well-being is important to her too.

“She sees the connection because if a person isn’t doing well mentally or with family or friend issues, she knows that also correlates how well they do in school,” said Berkeley Thompson, eighth grade student, Bothwell Middle School. “But she also sees that working hard on writing and just going to school and being in such a stable, consistent environment can also help solve those mental or social struggles.”

“Paula is a person that decides how she is going to get the most out of a student and how she is going to relate to them best,” said Emily Morgan-Booth, Band Director, Bothwell Middle School. “The best teachers that I have met, her included have told me things like, you need to know your students more than in my case what instrument they play, but more than just who they are in your classroom. You need to get to know them and learn other things about them. Who they are as people and she’s very good at making those connections with students. She’s also like a realist. She uses her ELA subject area to really do the hard work and get them to where they need to be when they get to high school, but she also teaches them how to be people through her subject area. To her, it’s very important that a student knows good social skills. They know how to present themselves in a professional matter if they go into a job interview. So, she gives them tough assignments, but it’s also assignments that she knows exactly how to relate to real life situations that she knows they will benefit from for their future, no matter what they do.

As Diedrich closes this chapter in her in her life after 28 years, she still plans on being involved in education, but says she’ll miss the everyday middle school atmosphere.

“I’m going to stay involved in education,” said Diedrich. “I’m going to do some work with student teachers through Northern [Michigan University]. I think just the spontaneousness, the quirkiness, I think those are the main things and being able to connect with a kid and help them [see] that they have a lot more potential than maybe they realize.”

“I really want to say thank you for making me a better writer,” said Brecken Goodwin, eighth grade student, Bothwell Middle School. “She really helped me out with that and hopefully she just has a good, restful retirement.”

“I just want her to know, Mrs. Diedrich, you have helped me so much and I am so grateful for all of the opportunities and experiences and lessons that you’ve taught,” said Thompson. “I’m amazed and I’m so honored and lucky to have had the chance to work with you.”

“Paula, you have earned this retirement more than most anyone I’ve ever met,” said Morgan-Booth. “I appreciate not only your professional expertise, but also your friendship and your care and concern about not only me as a teacher, but me as a human. It means a lot. It’s meant a lot the last eight years and I know we will stay in touch.”