Teaching is second nature to St. Pascal Baylon teacher

Krista Welle’s fourth grade class, from left to right, Chiashee, Audrey, Natalie, Olivia, Giovanni, Michael, Krista Welle, Matteo, Gabe, Sean, Orlando and Christopher. (Marjorie Otto/Review)

Some teachers don’t choose teaching; teaching chooses them.

St. Pascal Baylon Catholic School teacher Krista Welle knew she wanted to be a teacher when she was growing up.

“I just always remember wanting to be a teacher,” Welle says. She remembers admiring her own teachers and thinking she wanted to become one when she grew up. 

Welle, 53, was one of three finalists for the Minnesota Independent School Forum Honor Teacher Award. She was nominated by her colleagues at St. Pascal.

Welle began teaching at St. Pascal in 1985. She has been teaching there for 17 years now, with a break in the middle of her career while she raised her children. 

Even though her childhood dream was to become an educator, her first major in college was business. 

She attended St. Thomas University for a year and a half, and then transferred to the University of Minnesota’s College of Education “because business wasn’t doing it for me.”

She said she was offered an interview for a teaching job at St. Pascal because she was already familiar with the parish.

Welle grew up as a member of the St. Pascal parish, and her mother was the church organist. 

After college, Welle was a manager for a weight-loss business while she sent out job applications. Her mother knew teaching was what she really wanted to do and talked with the St. Pascal school principal at the time about setting up an interview. Welle got the job and has been there ever since.

A long-time resident on the East Side, she attended Battle Creek Elementary and Middle School, and graduated from Hill-Murray High School. 


An innovator

St. Pascal principal Laurie Jennrich says one of Welle’s strongest teaching attributes is her ability to innovate.

She gave the example of Welle incorporating iPads and other technologies into the classroom to help students prepare for 21st century learning. 

Jennrich says Welle is also talented at getting her students to engage in critical-thinking skills by staging debates on topics from the students’ reading lessons.

“I like to bring music into the classroom, too. The kids don’t always like it at first, but they get used to it,” Welle says with a laugh.  

Jennrich says Welle’s fourth-graders are “thriving in her classroom.”

Welle explains, “New things excite me. The same old thing bores me, and then I know it will bore the kids.”  

Last fall, Welle earned a master’s degree from St. Mary’s University in learning, design and technology. 

“I don’t know how she does it all,” Jennrich says.

Making a difference

Smiling as she looks around her classroom, Welle says, “This is my home away from home.”

She still lives on the East Side with her husband, another long-time East Side resident. They have two children and two grandchildren.

Welle says teaching for her means making a difference, not only in the youngsters’ academic skills, but in their life skills and how they feel about education. 

“I don’t think you really understand that when you first go into [teaching]. I think you understand it the longer that you’re into it.” 

She says she realizes the difference she makes over the years when former students come back to share how her classroom lessons affected the careers they now have. 

Teaching is most rewarding when she sees her students tackling a tough subject and comprehending it.

When asked what she likes best about Mrs. Welle, fourth-grader Olivia responds, “She’s just very understanding.” 

Welle says, “Every single day I go home, and I feel affirmed in some way ... it could be one kid, it could be the whole group, it could be multiple things.” 

Welle emphasizes that she believes the East Side is a great place to live and that there are many positive changes going on, adding that, “I think that our school can be a part of that [change]. 

“This place means the world to me.”

While teaching is her passion, Welle says music has always been an important part of her life

She sings in the St. Pascal church choir, as well as for weddings and funerals. 

She and her husband are also involved in other committees within the parish and volunteer at the Ramsey County family shelter.

Recognizing that no teacher stands alone, Welle expresses gratitude for the support she receives from Principal Laurie Jennrich, from her co-workers and the parish pastor, the Rev. Mark Biron. 

“It was quite an honor [to be a finalist] and the fact that I was nominated by my colleagues meant the world to me,” Welles says. “I have awesome colleagues.”


Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto.

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