I Am An Author

Last week I stood at the door of the local Barnes and Noble, greeting all who entered. At first, I just spoke a brief “hello.” This was my first time out signing my book “Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!” When an administration, who clearly disliked me, forced me out of my job in 2017, I wrote about my experiences. Not only with the school district I served for nine years but also the problems encountered in education. Now I need to insure the public receives my message: there are incredible educational issues facing today’s students, parents, teachers and administrators.

I faced the deficit brought on with forced retirement by pouring out anecdotes, teachable moments and reflective questions for the next generation of teachers. As I faced the customers passing through quickly to find their reading materials, I realized my presence did not detour their path. I designed postcards with a clever saying along with the information about my book. Scrambling, I began passing them out. They were gone within minutes. I began to feel my pace and understood I needed more than a “hello” and a postcard. So thus began my new spiel.

“Hello! My name is Paula Baack. I am a local author and a retired teacher. I wrote about my decades of teaching and the issues facing today’s educators. I am signing my book. If you do not plan to purchase it, I will sign this postcard.” Something clicked. After the phrase “I am a local author,” people looked up at me and smiled. When I suggested there are many issues facing education today, they paused and agreed. The remainder of the afternoon was a success! I signed all the books Barnes and Noble had on display and had to ask for more. But here is the takeaway: I am an author. Until that afternoon, I never spoke those four words. Moments still exist where I have to complete a reality check: I got fired, floundered for months, wrote a book, self-published it and now it is out there for anyone to read. I did not see that coming.

If you have a story to tell, please take the time to write it. Perhaps you will stand in a bookstore someday declaring “I am an author.” The sentence, while it does not complete the definition of whom I’ve become, reminds me of my new role. Pretty exciting to find a new purpose and relate it to my vocation of 46 years!


One of the best parts about being a teacher is watching your former students grow into incredible adults. Such is the case with Lisa Valentine Clark. This young woman is currently raising a family, co-starring in movies and hosting her own nationally broadcasted radio show. A few weeks ago, I received an invitation to be a guest on the Lisa Valentine Clark Show. Here is our conversation about education: http://www.byuradio.org/episode/255e8c9a-0746-4cf5-bc40-e888308423e4?playhead=2041&autoplay=true. The interview begins at 35:01.

By the way, Lisa has famous siblings: James Valentine (Maroon 5) and Amanda Valentine (placing second of Season 13 Project Runway). She currently designs her own clothing line Valentine Valentine. Lisa and James (and their adorable sister Gina) participated in my Nebraska choir program. Unfortunately I moved before Amanda attended my school.

In my book, I addressed this important issue: teachers must assume all of their students are destined for greatness. I never dreamed the Valentine children would hold prominence on the national stage. The same may be said of my other “famous” students: Scotty Johnson (Gin Blossoms), Scott MacIntyre (Top 10 American Idol 2009) and Nate Zuercher (Judah and the Lion). I take NO credit. Having these talented people pass through my orbit made my teaching path even more exciting. Lesson learned: treat all students as if their journey is the most important aspect of your professional life.