By Aubreanna Miller
For the Herald
When Paige Kinnaman graduated from high school, she had a dream of becoming a veterinarian. Never did she think, five years later, she would begin her first year as a teacher at Wayne Elementary School.
The Emerson native's post-high school education began at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the field of animal science. Kinnaman said she enjoyed the science experience, but did not feel at home in Lincoln's big city atmosphere. So, she moved back to northeast Nebraska to try out a new path of teaching.
"My sister and aunt are both teachers," Kinnaman explained. "I shadowed my aunt and saw first hand just how much she loved her job. I always liked working with kids while baby-sitting and coaching softball, so I decided to follow in my sister and aunt's footsteps."
Kinnaman received her degree in elementary and middle-level math education with an English language endorsement from Wayne State College in May of 2023.
While at WSC, she participated in the Northeast Nebraska Teacher Academy (NENTA) for four years, subbing for grades K through ninth at area schools.
As a substitute teacher, Kinnaman said she learned so much from her experience in NENTA through practicing the strategies and procedures she learned in the classroom. She was placed at Wayne Elementary for her student teaching hours, making her transition to full-time staff member all the easier.
Outside of her classes and subbing, she worked at the Wayne Golf Course.
Kinnaman now teaches fifth grade reading, one period of social studies and one period of grammar. She also serves as the third through sixth grade Student Assistant Team (SAT) Coordinator.
As the SAT Coordinator, Kinnaman conducts meetings with other teachers to find accommodations — both academic and behavioral — for students to ensure they receive the best environments for learning.
During her first semester teaching, she also coached junior high girl's volleyball.
"It has definitely felt very busy, being a new teacher and coach," Kinnaman said, "but I have gotten my teaching routine down and gotten to know the students well. Other teachers stop in my room to make sure I am settling in and they always have their doors open for questions if I have any."
The decisions to both go into teaching and stay in Wayne have proved to be the right ones, Kinnaman expressed.
She added that she feels excited for the spring semester to jump into reading more novels with her students.
Outside of school, the teacher enjoys walking her dog and spending time with her friends and sister.
"Being in the Wayne community has been so great," Kinnaman said. "Since my family is around here, I have had my support system with me through this process which helped so much. I'm excited to get my routine and classroom management down and continue working with the students. At this older age, they have great conversations and are quite independent which has been fun."