That's a wrap on LJHS Mass Media Journalism Teacher Paula Neidlinger’s 28-year career
For 28 years, Paula Neidlinger has proudly worked for Plymouth Community School Corporation, but on May 29, she decided to wrap up her career by ending the school year by announcing her retirement. Neidlinger said, “The decision didn’t come easy. It’s always difficult to walk away from something that you love or have a passion for. I don’t know that there’s ever a perfect time- I’m not sure that any of us are ever ready. It was a great point in my life to close this chapter, as the doors of Lincoln close. I started at Lincoln as a sixth-grade student and have spent the majority of my life walking the halls of Lincoln.” Neidlinger’s career roots run deep within Plymouth schools as well. She said, “I worked at Plymouth High School in 1992 as an aide. I began at Lincoln in 1993 as a 6th-grade language arts teacher and was housed in a portable classroom east of the building. We had three portable classrooms during this time period. Lincoln housed 6-8 grade. In 1999, I transitioned to administration, and I was named Principal at Jefferson Elementary School. In 2007, I returned to Lincoln as a 7th-grade language arts teacher. Finally, in 2014, I transitioned from language arts to mass media, and most recently journalism.” She said she has been fortunate to work with and learn from numerous teachers and administrators throughout the years while at PCSC. “When I first started teaching at Lincoln, most of the teachers that I had while attending Lincoln as a middle school student were still teaching. I had the best role models that any teachers could ask for. Most of us don’t have that privilege in life. I learned from the best. During the last five years, I was given the opportunity to create a media program, which ironically has always been my true passion. My true hope is that I’ve made a positive impact on my students’ futures.”
Lincoln Jr. High School Principal Reid Gault said, “Paula has been a great example of what PCSC and Lincoln values in her learning and growth over the years. She was a pioneer in using technology in her classroom to engage students and give students a voice. Her work in her media classroom was outstanding and will be missed. Each year she went above and beyond to grow her program, be a continuous learner, and to celebrate the work of her students. At Lincoln we value being student centered and having a growth mindset, Paula was exceptional in both of these and we thank her and wish her an amazing retirement.
Neidlinger holds a Bachelor of Arts in telecommunications from Indiana University, a teaching certification in English Education, and from Indiana University South Bend both a Master of Science in Education as well as a Master of Science in K-12 administration. “I had planned to go into radio and television out of college. I worked for Telecommunication Inc. in Denver and Chicago during the early and mid-1980s, which was my first job out of college. However, after returning to Plymouth and starting a family, I realized that my parents knew more than I often gave them credit for; their recommendation of a teaching career seemed like a great path. English seemed like the logical focus, as I had always had a passion for writing. Once I returned to Plymouth, I returned to school and added my English teaching degree to my undergraduate degree in telecommunications. Additionally, I added my master’s degree in secondary education and administration, as I had made the decision to transition into teaching,” said Neidlinger.
Her parents, Richard and Virginia Benefiel, both were teachers for Plymouth Community School Corporation during their entire teaching careers as well. She said, “My dad was the PHS band director for 30 years, while mom taught elementary music at Jefferson and formerly West Elementary. Dad passed away in 2007 from cancer and other complications. My mom is still very active and resides in Plymouth. Although I am retiring from my current teaching position, I don’t see myself retiring from teaching and learning. However, I will miss the creativity light bulb that goes off in a student- that point where passion takes over. My initial plan is to spend more time with both our children and my new granddaughter. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I’m looking forward to spending some cold winter months on the beach under palm trees! I plan to continue writing, as this is one of my true passions. I have a new book coming out in August, which is exciting.” Neidlinger has already published two fictional books, the first in 2006 and the last in 2009.
Her husband, Mike, a PHS graduate, retired last September. Their daughter Aly, a 2006 graduate of PHS and the University of Indianapolis, currently resides downstate in Fishers and works for Republic National Distributing as a state manager. Their son Nick, a 2008 graduate of PHS and Indiana University, currently resides in Washington D.C. and works for Gryphon Technologies as a program manager. “He is married to Brenna, and they had their first child in February of this year, Nora Annette Neidlinger. I am officially a grandma,” Neidlinger said.
Additionally, she said, “I love cooking, gardening, traveling, tennis, golf, and fitness, so I have a lot to keep me busy. I will not miss a schedule. I’m looking forward to more flexibility in my life and being able to sit on the deck drinking my morning coffee- or maybe even afternoon coffee. Thank you to everyone for their support and friendships throughout the years.”