Alumna Named Teacher of the Year

paula merrick

Redlands alumna Paula Merrick is known for pouring her energy into her students and happily sharing what she knows with colleagues.

And that reputation has garnered Merrick the Teacher of the Year award for the Solana Beach School District.

“I think Paula absolutely stands out because she is such a collaborative professional,” explained Leslie Fausset, Solana Beach School District Superintendent. “She’s always willing to give, always willing to share.”

Merrick was recognized at the 36th Annual San Diego County Teacher of the Year Awards Salute to Teachers, a black-tie, live television event held in early October.

Much of Merrick’s knowledge comes from experience. The 1976 Redlands graduate has been a speech and language pathologist for more than 30 years, and has worked in the Solana Beach School District since 1991. She worked at both Skyline and Solana Highlands before joining the staff at Solana Pacific in 2004.

Merrick serves about 50 students who have been identified as needing speech services. Sometimes, she serves the students one-on-one, and at times her work is done alongside students in their regular classrooms. She also works with teachers to ensure that students are receiving instruction that meets their needs and is geared to their skill levels.

She said she views speech therapy as a way to empower children to live their best lives.

“It’s giving kids the power to have control over their destiny,” she said.

Merrick said her most rewarding moments at work come when previously frustrated students discover new ways to communicate effectively.

“To see growth is just so inspiring,” she said.

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