A passion and purpose in teaching
A passion and purpose in teaching
Posted on 04/03/2018

Carolina Vasylyshyn is a second grade teacher at Carson Elementary whose passion for teaching began when she was just seven years old. Carolina was inspired by her second grade teacher, and from that moment she knew her passion and purpose was to someday become a teacher.

“One of my students came up to me and said that they want to be a teacher like me and teach like I do, and hearing those things from my students just melts my heart. I will always remember my second grade teacher, Mrs. Comfort. Watching her teach made me realize teaching is exactly what I want to do,” Carolina said.

Carolina is one of five siblings in her family, and her parents had always encouraged them to pursue the best education possible. This is the number one reason Carolina’s family moved to Puyallup.

“I knew when they moved our family here to Puyallup they were thinking about our education because that has been one of the biggest things for my parents. We grew up in Ukraine where education wasn’t always available to us and it wasn’t something that came easy,” Carolina explained. “For my parents, our education was always the number one thing for them. Where were we going to get the best education. When they brought us here, I know this was the best place for us. This is where that passion was even more instilled into me.”

Carolina also has family who work in the Puyallup School District. Her mother, Catherine Laktionov, is a Facilities Operation Manager at Aylen Junior High and her father, Oleg Laktionov, works as a driver at the district’s Logistics Support Center.

“My parents loved everything about the schools when I was a student. For me, getting to be here now as an employee, I can honestly say Puyallup School District is an amazing place to be. Not only because of the support that teachers get, but because of the support both my mom and my dad get in both of their positions, too. To have all of us working in the school district together has been so cool. We love that we get to share that,” Carolina said.

Carolina’s family moved to University Place from Ukraine. In Ukraine, Carolina’s mom taught as a math teacher for over eight years before she and her husband decided to move their family to the United States over 20 years ago.

Her mother, Catherine said, “I am so happy for her and I am so proud. I find it hard to put into words to describe how proud I actually am. As a mom I am just so proud. For her to return to the same school she attended in elementary school and to now have her own classroom just makes me so happy. Had we stayed in Ukraine I would have been a teacher for almost 30 years now, but for my daughter to have her own classroom makes it all worth it.”

When Carolina was in the fourth grade, her family moved to South Hill where Carolina attended Brouillet Elementary until Carson opened in 2007. Carolina attended Carson Elementary as a sixth grader the first year the school opened.

In reflection of her experience as a student she exclaimed, “This has been the coolest experience. I remember being a sixth grader here playing at recess and having our teacher, Mr. Roy, play flag football with us. I just remember having so much fun. Just having all of these memories here from a student’s point of view and then coming back as a teacher at the same elementary school has just been so cool.”

Vasylyshyn and class

Carolina then went to Stahl Junior High followed by Rogers High School where she graduated in 2013. As a Running Start student, Carolina went to Pierce College as a Rogers High School student for her junior and senior years and began earning her degree to become a teacher.

Carolina then transitioned to Evergreen College to pursue her bachelor’s degree in literature. She is now pursuing her master’s degree at Western Governors University and plans to be done next April.

“Some people go into college not really knowing what they want to do, but I knew I wanted to be a teacher since I was seven years old. I have three younger siblings, and since I was in the first or second grade I would pretend to be their teacher by giving them homework I would grade or send them to ‘recess’ and then bring them back in.” Carolina laughed as she recalled the story. “I always knew that this is what I wanted to do and I never had a doubt about it. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

But before Carolina got her own classroom, she got to experience teaching in the district as a substitute teacher while continuing to work on her degree. The opportunity came along to interview for a teaching position at Carson this year. After she was offered the position, Carolina knew she couldn’t refuse.

“One of the things that has helped me most is the support I received after I started working here at Carson. I am so thankful for all of the resources my principal has helped me with in my first year. As well as all of the opportunities that the district offers to teachers such as the new teacher training through Amanda Kraft,” Carolina said. “I feel like there are so many amazing things that Puyallup School District does to support new teachers and give us these opportunities. It has been amazing.”


“It’s unbelievable to me. I still sometimes come home amazed that I have my own classroom, I have my own students, and it’s even better than I ever imagined. Just being able to make an impact in these kids’ lives and knowing that whatever I instill in them could possibly change them for the rest of their lives.”

 -Carolina Vasylyshyn

Carolina’s passion for teaching kids shows in the enthusiasm and care she demonstrates for each of her students. Her impact has even been inspiring students in her own class to want to be a teacher someday as well. Because of her love and passion for her work, Carolina has a hard time calling what she does working.

Carolina explained, “People say that when you love what you do then you will never have to work a day in your life, and that is exactly how I feel every day coming here. I love coming to work, I love being here, and I love the atmosphere. I love everything about teaching.”

Carolina admitted there have been challenges along the way, but she said all of them have been worth it to be where she is now. She encourages anyone who has a love for teaching students to consider becoming a teacher. When asked what advice she would give to someone interested in teaching she replied, “It’s not about the hours, it’s not about the pay. To me the biggest thing would be the passion, I think. If you have a passion for these kids and you have that passion to make a difference in other people’s lives, then this is the perfect job for you.”