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Katie Patoka works as a teacher aide in the morning, and teaches history and English in the afternoons at Redeemer Lutheran School. She is new to Tucson—this summer will mark her first year here— but she’s already making a mark!

Patoka was born and raised in Wisconsin. She moved to Arizona with her husband when he took a new assignment as a pastor last July.

She enjoys spending her free time outdoors, she says, whether it’s biking, hiking or camping. “I feel like we’ve acclimated (to Arizona),” says Patoka, who admits to preferring the hot weather to cold and snow.

Patoka’s mother was a teacher, and Patoka says she always wanted to follow in mom’s footsteps.

“Pretty much ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher,” she explains.

School did not come easily for her, recalls Patoka. She says that may help her to be a better teacher.

“I struggled quite a bit in school,” she says, so “I can relate to students who struggle...I take my own experi- ences, what helped me” and use that to help others.

That may mean learning to phrase things in a different way to get a point across, she explains. Her methods seem to be working.

“Mrs. Patoka is so fun and easy to talk to,” writes student Naomi, who nominated Patoka. “She can get down to your level, answer your questions and has a way of making her teachings 'click.'"

Naomi nominated Patoka more than once, noting that seeing her teacher honored “would mean a bunch!”

Patoka is looking forward to a family trip this summer. She will visit her family in Wisconsin, and then her husband’s family (from Tennessee and Virginia) will gather in Kentucky in July.

Learning to focus, taking notes and looking at things in a different way helped Patoka in school and “got me to where I am,” she says, “but it wasn’t an easy journey for me.” Patoka adds that

this message of perserverence is an important one for her to share with her students.

She reminds students, “Don’t give up, even if school doesn’t come can still succeed in life.”

Teacher Fun Facts:

  • Hobbies: Biking, hiking & camping
  • Favorite Subjects in School: Art, English, math and music
  • Favorite Subjects to Teach: Math and English
  • Spanning the Grades: Patoka helps with third and fourth grade, and teaches fifth and sixth grade. 
June 2017