Rebekah Paprzycki, a former Citrus Springs Middle School student, six years ago said what she thought was her last goodbye to the school.
Fast forward to today and the former student is back: this time as a teacher.
Not only will she be teaching at her former school; she will be doing so in some of the classrooms where she was taught.
“When we can have one of our own students make the full cycle back to the classroom and do it as promptly as Rebekah has, it is enormously inspirational and it is a model that I hope others follow,” said Thomas Kennedy, Citrus County School Board Chairman.
Paprzycki was offered a teaching position at Citrus Spring Middle School as a sixth-grade mathematics teacher in the fall of this upcoming school year.
“I know that I wanted to be a teacher,” Paprzycki said. “But it was not even a thought in my mind… that I was gonna teach at CSMS. The school brings back a lot of old memories. It is crazy how I walk down the halls and remember when I was here.”
The math position comes not a moment too soon as her mother, Lisa Paprzycki, who previously taught at CSMS, was offered a position this year at the district.
Now CSMS will continue to have a Paprzycki teaching at the school.
“I’m really excited to take everything that I have learned and my dreams and apply it to the classroom,” she said.
Her love for the classroom goes back to her first years in school.
“I can remember in elementary school playing school on weekends. I would do my own planning… I figured out how to use Microsoft Excel to do the grading for my fake students. It was just my imagination,” she said.
But now Paprzycki has the degree and experience to back up her preparation for becoming a teacher.
She has had a love for kids and teaching her entire life. She was a substitute teacher for Citrus County School district her senior year of high school, taught discipleship for her youth group, babysat, worked at Guardian Angels Preschool where she taught a voluntary pre-kindergarten class and was an intern in the school system at Citrus County.
“I wanted to become a teacher because of the impact that all my teachers made on me. It was always a burning desire in me to pursue teaching… there was just something about it,” she said.
One of the benefits of her age is her ability to integrate technology and games into the classroom to make learning more efficient.
“I am able to understand where the kids are at because I am so young… it was not too long ago that I was in middle school. I can relate to them,” she said.
“I think the fact that she is going to be so recently out of the classroom that she can identify with both the challenges of what the students deal with both in their social and academic world… and she can really help these students become the most successful they can be,” Kennedy said.
With the roles reversed, Paprzycki expressed how it is going to be weird for once, not being a student. Her new homework is going to be grading.
Paprzycki has been surrounded by educators her entire life.
Her mother, Lisa Paprzycki, taught at CSMS and is moving to the district as a teacher on special assignment for technology. Her father, Joseph Paprzycki Jr., teaches business at Crystal River Middle School. Her aunt, Heather Paprzycki, teaches S.T.E.M (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) classes at Lecanto Primary School.
Kennedy believes Paprzycki has a bright future in teaching.
“If her family lineage is any indication; if her success and determination is any indication; she is going to be an exceptional teacher,” he said.
Paprzycki attended Lecanto High School and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2017. She also attended the College of Central Florida as a dual enrollment student and was able to graduate high school with her Associates in Arts Degree.
She attended the University of Central Florida and graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.
“We want people to come back to Citrus County; we want people to be part of this county and this is an excellent way, especially for a young person,” Kennedy said.
Paprzycki is excited about the opportunity to teach in Citrus County.
“I was so thankful for everything that the school gave me”, she said. “If it was not for this county and dual enrollment, I would not be where I am today. I just want to give back to the community, especially the one that I grew up in. It was crazy to think that ‘wow, I am going to be teaching in the county that raised me.’”