Paulette Dorval has been teaching just over 40 years in western North Dakota. Just five of those years have been at Dickinson High School, but she's already made an impression on her co-workers and students there.
Every year, Dickinson Public Schools celebrates its retiring teachers at a banquet. This year, however, it was canceled due to COVID-19. Instead, the district posted a list of names on its Facebook page.
Having worked in the district just five years, Dorval's name wasn't included. (DPS lists retirees if they've worked 10 or more years in the district.) Her co-workers wanted to make sure she was recognized anyway.
"To teach for 40 years is a feat worth celebrating in and of itself," said fellow teacher CaraLee Heiser. "The fact that Paulette has done it with heart and integrity says something about her as a person. She is an inspiration to her fellow educators, myself included!"
Dorval teaches a food preparations class at the school where she teaches her students to bake and cook.
Angie Shilman works in the office at the school, and her two children were in Dorval's class.
"She really ignited a passion in my second child and ever since, I think, the quarantine started and the distance learning ... he has been making something once a week, and he makes it from scratch," Shilman said.
He wasn't in Dorval's class when distance learning started. He'd taken her class at the beginning of the school year.
"She (Dorval) sends him recipes still ... I think it was maybe the third week of distance learning, she stopped in and she was getting some ingredients for students. She just asked how Lucas was doing and if he needed anything," Shilman said.
Shilman told Dorval that her son was doing well but was having trouble finding a few ingredients.
"She (Dorval) actually had a bag of ingredients for him and said, 'Send him this.' He wasn't even in her class currently, so that was pretty cool," Shilman said.
He likes making desserts and has made several including cinnamon rolls, banana muffins, almond bars - and scones.
"He got his scones recipe from her," Shilman said. "He made her kind twice, and then he's varied her recipe three different times. She'll call and she'll say, 'Hey, have him try it with cranberries and chocolate chips,' and he'll take her tips and do that. He loves her scone recipe."
Going the extra mile for her students is something her co-workers say she does often.
"Paulette is a very caring individual," Heiser said. "She wants what is best for her students and takes pride in the relationships she builds with each of them."
Shilman said she is thankful and blessed to know the retiring teacher.
"She is an amazing teacher, co-worker and person," she said. "I can't say enough how blessed we are to have Paulette at Dickinson High, and when she leaves, there will be a piece that will always be missing."