An Advocate and Champion for NHS students


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As NHS’s new activities administrative assistant, Paula Hella enjoys being a champion for students.

Sophia Henning and Lily Heidorn

As NHS’s new activities administrative assistant, Mrs. Paula Hella is having a personal impact on students within her new position as she embodies someone who they can connect with throughout high school.

Growing up in the city of Appleton, Hella learned to embrace individuals from all walks of life. This lesson first took effect in the ’80s when she was in high school. When thinking back to high school experiences, she recognizes that the Appleton community lacked diversity ‒ with less than half a percent of the population being African-American. 

Mrs. Hella goes on to point out that her graduating class of 1987 had only two minority students. When analyzed, those minority students are like two needles in a haystack. Because of this statistic and the unfair adversity that minorities in her community faced, she felt compelled to help those who needed and would benefit from her support most in their own lives. 

“I believe that everybody needs help along the way, unfortunately our communities don’t always make it easy.” With this statement, she values using one’s own voice to advocate for their needs because life is like hiking up a mountain with many highs and lows along the way.

Following her time at UW-Oshkosh where she earned a master’s degree in Education Counseling, she served as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While there, she worked with minorities and underrepresented individuals to break down various barriers. As a result of her work, SeeHaferNews reports that she was awarded the Wisconsin Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (WEAFCS) Mid-Career Award in 2018.

She later went on to work at CESA 6, a Cooperative Educational Service Agency that serves 39 public school districts in seven Wisconsin counties. In this role, she worked with young individuals to develop social and life skills that lay the foundation for their futures. 

Looking back, Hella values the role she held as a part of the Appleton Little League team, which she described as always being a positive environment where everyone was welcome. As a result of spending time within this comfortable youth atmosphere, she later took a position at Lakeview Elementary with Cross-Categorical work. While in this role, she gained great appreciation for the positive environment that was instilled at Neenah schools. 

“When Mrs. Dohr announced her retirement, I knew that stepping into her position would grant me a great opportunity to interact with students at Neenah High School.” This realization walked her way and she ran toward it.

With experience working with different age groups, she believes that working with each age group provides its own unique rewards that can’t outweigh other groups. “All skills are transferable. It is a different way of utilizing skills in positive youth development.”

She believes NHS has an amazing group of students that are passionate about activities they are involved in. Therefore, she is brought the most joy by getting to see many talented and amazing students who are involved in school activities. 

In the end, she vocalizes that while the job is highly paperwork driven, the greatest reward is to be able to work and be a champion for the students.

“I hope to build relationships with others around me and be a champion for them always.”