Paul Pierce teaches fifth grade at Acacia Elementary. He previously taught third grade and fifth grade at Desert Willow Elementary.
He says he really enjoyed teaching third grade, but he also feels that fifth grade is a good fit for him. As one of only a few male teachers, it lets him “help out with some of the kids who need a strong male role model,” says Pierce. His wife, Apryl, also teaches at Acacia.
Pierce is a Louisville, Kentucky, native. He says he has gotten used to the desert heat and doesn’t miss winter weather or summer humidity. He attended an all-male Catholic school and says he never had a public school experience before he started teaching. His structured background leads him to be very organized, he says. But his students and colleagues also see a lighter side.
“He always jokes with us students when we’re having a bad day and makes learning so much fun,” writes student Ciena. She nominated Pierce, and she notes that he “goes above and beyond his duties as a teacher.”
Pierce says he reminds his students and fellow teachers that “we’re all going to have bad days, so look for the lighter side (and) make those bad days a little bit better.”
Pierce has a communications degree from the University of Louisville and remains a diehard Cardinals fan. When he was young, Pierce wanted to be an actor and star on television or in movies, he says. But after he graduated, he worked in insurance. When he did some substitute teaching, Pierce found that he loved being in the classroom. He got his master’s degree in education from Northern Arizona University.
In his free time, Pierce likes to play golf. He often hits the links with his father-in-law or his teenage son. He is a college basketball fan, and roots for Louisville, but has also adopted his wife’s team, the Arizona Wildcats.
Pierce likes to remind students that education is a lifelong journey. “It’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them,” Pierce says.
Besides learning to look on the bright side, Pierce hopes that his students will learn that each one is “here to become a better human.”