Richard Paulison had tricks for helping students improve their reading skills: He’d teach them how to look for context clues and remember certain words.
“His claim to fame was being able to get the students who didn’t pass the reading test the first time to pass the second time around,” said Ros Gooding, a long-time colleague at Miami Coral Park Senior High School.
Paulison, who worked as a Miami-Dade English and reading teacher for 40 years, died July 30 of cancer. He was 64.
Born and raised in North Miami, Paulison graduated from North Miami Senior High in 1967 and then went to what is now Miami Dade College.
It was on the balcony of the school where he met Linda Birard, who would become his wife.
“He was very friendly and outgoing and he did a lot of things I had never done before,” she said.
Their first date was Christmas Eve 1968. They married in August 1970.
“Everything was an adventure with him,” she said. They made their home in North Miami before moving to Pembroke Pines in 1988.
Meanwhile, Paulison pursued his love for learning and teaching.
“It was his passion,” said his widow. “He knew being a teacher was his calling.”
He went on to Florida Atlantic University, majored in English and graduated with a bachelor’s degree. In 1972, he took his first teaching job at Miami Central Senior High School, where he spent 18 years.
He did two short stints at middle schools in Miami-Dade before moving on to Miami Coral Park Senior High, where he taught until his retirement in 2012, when he began treatments for cancer.
Even though he left his house at 6 a.m. to get to work, his wife said he would always say his day was “a piece of cake.”
“He loved what he did,” she said.
Gooding said even though Paulison was a soft-spoken man, in the classroom students listened. In recent years, he spent his time helping children with their reading skills.
“Students would come back and say they passed because of him,” Gooding said.
Outside of the classroom, Paulison loved everything South Florida had to offer, said his son Timothy Paulison. Among is favorite activities: fishing, boating and camping.
“He was always teaching us about what we were seeing,” said Timothy Paulison.
His wife remembers a three-week camping trip her husband planned with his brother in the 1980s for both of their young families. They drove as far as Wyoming, pitching a tent every night in different places to explore different parts of the country.
“My kids still talk about it today,” she said.
He also loved to read everything from classics to the latest Clive Cussler book.
“There wasn’t a lot he didn’t like to read,” said his son.
In addition to his son and wife, Paulison is survived by his daughter Lisa Rillo, mother Billie Paulison and brothers David, Kenneth and Larry Paulison.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Boyd Panciera Funeral Home, 1600 N. University Dr., Pembroke Pines.