Wakonda teacher answers call to duty Paulsen is activated to go overseas December 1 by Nicole Mosberger and Ally Eckert Just about everyone in America knows someone in Iraq or who is going to Iraq. Tom Paulsen, the fifth-grade teacher from Wakonda elementary school, will be activated on Dec. 1 to go overseas.
Paulsen, a Wall native, enlisted in the National Guard when he was a senior at Wall High School to get money for college and to try something different from what everyone else was doing and learning.
After he graduated from Black Hills State he began to teach. This year was his second year teaching the fifth grade in Wakonda.
Paulsen, who is a first class lieutenant, will be in charge of about 30 soldiers and will be responsible for supervising the missions and whatever else his duties will require of him. He is expected to be gone 12 to 18 months.
He has few concerns and is confident in the training he has received. He does, however, hope to be part of the group that will end all that is going on overseas.
Paulsen thinks that this is something that needs to be done and that those that have been in Iraq and the surrounding areas need to be replaced so they can be with their families.
To prepare for his departure he had to get his class turned over to a new teacher, John Mulhair, a student teacher who will be graduating from USD in December.
Mulhair, a Yankton native and graduate, studied at SDSU for three years and is planning on getting his elementary education degree. His only concern about teaching is trying to plan enough so he's always prepared. He thinks that teaching will be exciting, challenging and fulfilling.
He expects great things from both himself and his students.
"Kids need lots of structure, reading, and to learn good citizenship and manners," Mulhair said.
Paulsen thinks that his students will do fine and adapt to their new teacher. He also has confidence in Mulhair's teaching ability to continue the successful learning of his fifth graders.
He will miss seeing them first thing in the morning and always putting him in a good mood even if he's not in one already.
"They are like family," Paulsen said.
Class members said they, likewise will miss their teacher and his unique sense of humor.