On a cold winter day on March 19, 1927, in a farm home in Webster, Minnesota, Robert and Pauline Tupa were not only celebrating the feast of St. Joseph, but also the birth of their second child, Dorothy Josephine.
The home was a friendly one, filled with hospitality for relatives and neighbors. The family was bilingual, speaking both English and Bohemian. As the family grew, Dorothy Josephine formed a close bond with her sister, Polly, and thoroughly enjoyed the activities of her one older brother, Robert, and two younger brothers, Norbert and Loren.
In 1943, Dorothy Josephine entered Holy Trinity School, a perfect fit for this intellectual, curious, active child. After eighth grade graduation, Dorothy Josephine entered St. Joseph Convent on August 1, 1941, and completed her high school requirements. She was received as a School Sister of St. Francis on June 13, 1944, and was called Sister Paula Jane.
Intending to become a teacher, Sister entered Alverno College, which at that time was conducted at St. Joseph Convent. In 1948, Sister Paula Jane was sent to St. William’s Parish in Chicago for 14 years, where not only did she teach 55 seventh graders, but trained the Mass servers, taught a weekly CCD class, and did other parish duties.
Her teaching skills were recognized, and the next years were spent teaching and administering in Illinois. In 1971, she attended Northwestern University to obtain her Masters’ Degree.
Sister Paula Jane’s parents had moved to California. Wanting to be near them and recognizing her own potential as an educator, she saw a future there. For ten years she was employed as an instructor at Saddleback College in South Orange County, California. Then, for the next 41years, she was the CEO of the academies that she fostered and administered.
Sister Paula Jane often stated that the traditional school didn’t meet the needs of today’s student population, especially students with special needs and autism. She believed in individualized education, each student learning on the basis of the gifts given to them and in their own style of learning. Sister Paula Jane had a sense of determination that enabled her to persevere in discovering the unique techniques to address the individualized profile of every student.
It was difficult for Paula Jane to leave California because she had dedicated her ministry to helping teachers learn skills and techniques that would enable every student to learn and have success. Immediately upon arrival at Sacred Heart, Sister Paula Jane found students in need of individualized learning. She visited local schools to offer her services to teachers in the “how” of strategizing to meet individual needs of their students. She assisted English learners with accent reduction and with their college studies.
Sister Paula Jane was very dedicated to her family and they had great admiration for her and continually assisted her in her endeavors. She enjoyed their invitations to be present for all the major events within their lives. The Sierra Francisca Area Community was also very special to her, and she attended most of the meetings.
Sister Paula Jane was always appreciative of any service or assistance given her. “Thank you” was a phrase that was often heard as one visited or helped her.
Sister Paula Jane, we thank you for your 79 years of dedicated service, and especially for administering to students having special needs.
May the angels and saints, and especially St. Joseph, greet you. May he have noticed that you as a child were named after him, and that you celebrated every March 19 in his honor.