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The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

‘I’m awesome, what can I say?’

English teacher gives lessons on the subject he once failed
CeCe Gerard
Paul Sanders isn’t afraid to use his own educational experiences to help teach students in his English class.

English teacher Paul Sanders once dealt with struggles in school, graduating with a 1.9 GPA. 

“I failed my first two years of English in high school,” Sanders said.

Sanders now teaches the subject he failed in the past to help students who are struggling. 

“I feel it’s important that kids see themselves represented by their teachers,” Sanders said. 

As a teacher, Sanders works to help the kids that otherwise wouldn’t have interest in academia. 

“It’s important to show kids that you don’t have to be great at school to be good at English,” Sanders said. 

Sanders attended Papillion South and did not care much about his academics. He isn’t sure how he graduated. 

“I made a lot of mistakes and did a lot of stupid things,” Sanders said. 

Getting older allowed Sanders to become more mature, and things turned around for him. 

“I will be graduating with my masters with a 3.97 GPA,” Sanders said. 

He graduated from Metropolitan Community College  and is now graduating with his masters from University of Nebraska Lincoln. Metro did not care what his grades were, but he had a high school diploma therefore he could make up any classes to get his associate’s degree. 

Before getting his associate’s degree and becoming a teacher, Sanders worked at QuikTrip for 10 years. He worked there for five years before deciding to go back to school for teaching. 

“I don’t know why the students find it interesting but I worked for a gas station for 10 years,” Sanders said. 

He was making more money than as a teacher, but the job ‘was very purposeless.’ Over the time Sanders dealt with impolite customers at QuikTrip that he had to deal with until he finished schooling. 

“I was even robbed once,” Sanders said. 

Sanders remained working at QuikTrip while in college for five years.

 “I spent time working and saving to go to college,” Sanders said. “My wife and I are really into cash flowing everything. We live a debt free lifestyle.” 

Sanders and his wife, Brandy, who he’s been married to for nearly 10 years, only spend money on what they need. 

“If we want something, we save up for it,” Sanders said. 

Sanders lives with his two daughters, a five year old named Harper and a two year old named Charlotte. They’re named after two book authors. Harper is named after the author of To Kill a Mockingbird and his youngest is named after Charlotte Bronte, the author of Jane Eyre. Sanders’ dog is named Finn after Huckleberry Finn.

“It’s kind of a tradition in our family to have literary names,” Sanders said.

After earning enough money to go to college and spending time with family, Sanders started teaching the subject he once failed.

However, the truth behind Sanders’ career was built off spite. 

“I had a high school English teacher that I just absolutely hated, hated, hated, hated,” Sanders said. “I think there’s some truth that the only reason I became a high school teacher was to show him I could do his job better than he can,” Sanders said. 

Prior to attending Westside High School, Sanders taught at West Campus for three years. 

“I was an alternative high school student, so I wanted to teach alternative education,” Sanders said. 

West Campus is an important piece of what the district is doing, and is just as important to Sanders’ teaching career. 

“I love being here because I get to meet kids like [you] and I can be challenged by the students, but there’s never been a more fulfilling part of my job than working at West Campus,” Sanders said. 

An important philosophy of Sanders is to be real.

“As much as you can, be honest, be vulnerable and be open,” Sanders said.

Sanders knows he’s a well-loved teacher and he wants to make it clear why this is the case. 

“If there’s something that I would want people to know about me as a teacher, it’s that the reason why I do get along with teenagers is because I try to treat them like adults,” Sanders said. “I’m not going to sugarcoat things.”

In Sanders’ mind, it’s common for people to say that  it’s okay, but in reality, it’s not. To him, that’s okay, but only if something is done about it. 

“If you’re failing, I’m going to let you know that you’re failing,” Sanders said. “That doesn’t mean I don’t like you. You are probably going to fail but also like failure is totally okay.”

Sanders hopes students find what they’re passionate about in high school and to not be afraid to try new things. 

“The only time you become a better person is when you fail,” Sanders said. “You only become better when you’re challenged, and in high school especially, this is a safe space to fail.”

He lets his students know that not going to college won’t determine their success if they have a strong high school career.

“The important part about high school is that you start building the habits when you’re young, because if you screw up here, it doesn’t mean that you will screw up in life,” Sanders said. 

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About the Contributors
Macaiah Dodd
Macaiah Dodd, Lance Staff
Hey, my name is Macaiah. This is my second year on Lance and I’m a sophomore. I love making memories and the color orange!
CeCe Gerard
CeCe Gerard, Sports J Photographer
Hi, my name is CeCe Gerard! I'm a sports photography Editor for Sports Journalism and a writer this year. I'm a Senior and this is my third year in Sports Journalism. My Favorite foods are ice cream and really good soft pretzels. I also have a dog named Walter. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at [email protected] and view my portfolio at cecegerardphotography.com
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