Veteran Teacher Makes A Difference Daily at Lenape Elementary School


    The New Paltz Central School District school community is proud of all its staff and faculty who serve or have served in the military and is grateful for their contributions. One veteran teacher, Paulette Easterlin of Lenape Elementary School, applied her social work skills during her military career before putting them to excellent use in the classroom.


    Mrs. Easterlin, who teaches Grade 5, has been working with our young learners for 18 years. Originally from Brooklyn, Mrs. Easterlin began her career as a social worker. As a social worker, she worked in foster care, adoption, residential care, and later juvenile probation, where she saw how young people's “experience in school impacted their future.” 


    Mrs. Easterlin was in the Army Reserve for eight years, serving as a combat social worker and a mental health professional, earning the rank of captain. She spent one year deployed full time at Fort Dix in New Jersey, where she worked with soldiers before and after deployments, teaching them about tools they could use to help them handle and cope with their experiences. 


    When asked what Veterans Day means to her, Easterlin replied, “A veteran is a family of people who rely on each other.” She emphasized the importance of support between service members as well as from family members, who must manage things at home while their loved one is away serving their country.


    Mrs. Easterlin joined the staff at Lenape Elementary in 2005 and taught Grades 3 and 4 before settling in with Grade 5, which she has found to be her favorite. She helps usher her Grade 5 students into their Middle School experience, encouraging them to enjoy learning, form relationships, and trust that their teachers are there to help them be successful. She said that she wants all of her students to feel confident as learners, and she encourages them to become “good citizens and people.”


    While she misses social work at times, Mrs. Easterlin finds that she incorporates the same principles and skills into her work as a teacher. “The connection between mental health and education is an important part of my thinking,” she said. These days, Mrs. Easterlin says, she has the privilege of experiencing students coming back to let her know the positive impact she had on their lives–an experience that she does not take for granted. “You hope your efforts are life changing,” she said.


    Lenape Elementary Principal Sean Inglee is full of praise for Mrs. Easterlin. “Mrs. Easterlin is not only a wonderful teacher, but also a brave veteran,” he said. “She has dedicated her life to serving our country and the students of Lenape. Mrs. Easterlin inspires us all with her courage, insight, and compassion. We are honored to have her as part of our school community.” 


    New Paltz Central School District Superintendent Stephen Gratto added, "We are appreciative of all of the men and women who have served our country in the armed forces. To have a veteran on staff like Paulette Easterlin, who leads by example, is a great benefit to our students and our school."