Plahm is the Bomb

Half teacher, half mom, Plahm does it all


Photo by Sammy Snyder

Kaci Craig and Tyler Semler

The yellow star of China. The red and green stripes of Mexico. The coat of arms of Venezuela… When one walks into Krysten Plahm’s room, the first thing that one will notice is the pictures on the wall of Plahm’s students, who are from all around the world. Although they may have come from different countries, they all have one thing in common: they are all proudly holding up their home countries flag. 

     Plahm, who graduated from Butler University in 2012, majored in secondary English education and minored in business and English as a second language education. Seven years ago, Plahm started making a big impact on all her students at Noblesville High School and still is today. Her students, unlike most U.S. high school students, are from different countries where their first language isn’t English.

 “ESL 1 and 2 are for beginning English language learners, so we focus on different language abilities [such as] listening, reading, writing and speaking,” Plahm said. “We read short stories and poems for reading and listening practice and write short paragraphs or stories for writing practice. We do the same thing in ESL 3 and 4, but it is more advanced.”

Plahm says she especially loves to interact with her students and learn more about who they are and where they come from.

“I think I have the most unique role in the school,” Plahm said. “I get to work with kids [from] all around the world, and I get to learn about their native language, cultural celebrations, and foods. Not one day of my role is the same and I love that.”

One thing Plahm does every year that she and her students love is a cultural hashtag project.

“The purpose of the project is for [the students] to find their voice and the hashtag embodies who they are as a human,” Plahm said. “It’s not just because they are an ESL student, it is also a part of their identity, culture, and language.”

One of Plahm’s former students, senior Oriana Fuenmayor, says that the cultural hashtag project is something she was proud to be a part of and see come to life. 

“All the time we get students who move here, but are only able to stay for a few months because they move back to their home country or somewhere else,” Fuenmayor said. “So when you go [into Plahm’s room] and see the wall, you see all these pictures of students who were here for some period of time and you know that even though they may have not of been able to stay long, they were still able to impact you in some way.”

Plahm is paving the way for successful futures and careers for all her students, and they couldn’t be more appreciative of her. One of her students, senior Khalid Aria, who is originally from Afghanistan and whose first language is Dari, had Plahm his freshman and sophomore year and now helps out around her classroom with new students.

“She’s very kind and is always trying to find a way to help all her students,” Aria said. “Aside from English, she’s really helped me with public speaking and feeling more confident talking in front of classes.”

Fuenmayor, like Aria, says that being one of Plahm’s students has been a great experience for her in many ways. 

“I really enjoyed being able to meet people from other countries, because they were people who had the same experiences as me with being an immigrant student and [having to be] in a different setting and [having to] adapt,” Fuenmayor said. “She is definitely a teacher who genuinely cares about all her students.”

Even though Plahm’s job is to help her students improve their fluency in English, she doesn’t stop there.

“In the past I’ve gone into their core classes like Algebra 1 and English to help them,” Plahm said. “I coordinate their state testing, their schedules, and help them with life problems. If they need to find a job or whatever, I help them find the connections in our school to better whatever they need to in their lives.”

Plahm and her students have a closely bonded relationship that may be like no other student to teacher relationship in the school, and that’s what pushes her to be the best teacher and friend she can be.

“In some ways I am like their mom and some of them will actually call me mom,” Plahm said. “I am not a mom personally, so it’s really cool to feel loved in a maternal way to children who are not my physical own. Connecting with these kids gives me a greater feeling of impact and purpose. It drives me to help more. I know I’m making a difference everyday when I’m with my kids in some way, shape, or form and that’s what’s most rewarding and why I chose to do this.”