Deb Pohlmann: 25 years building relationships for Pound student success
Deb Pohlmann is celebrating her silver anniversary at Pound Middle School this year with a legacy full of significant achievements.
Pohlmann has served Pound students in several roles for the past 25 years. Her first day at the building was Sept. 22, 1998, and she has remained an influential figure since then. She began working at Pound as a paraeducator and spent 18 years helping students in the life skills program. She is now the school’s student support technician.
“I just love kids,” Pohlmann said.
Pound Principal Victory Haines said Pohlmann has made a major impact on hundreds of people during the past quarter-century.
“She’s been here longer than any other staff member and is an essential part of our team,” Haines said. “She builds relationships with students and has coached and been there for many students in a number of different situations. Her commitment to students and staff and her overall positive and welcoming demeanor is a big part of what makes Pound a great place.”
Pohlmann said she enjoys working with middle school students. She said the age group is full of talented people who sometimes simply need a helping hand.
“I love what I do because you feel like you can make a difference in a kid’s life,” she said. “Not all of the kids like me. I’ve had kids tell me that they don’t like me, but I love them. I tell them that my job is to help you be the best possible you, and that’s what I try to do every day.”
Pohlmann grew up on a farm near the town of Osmond in northeast Nebraska. She moved to Lincoln in the 1980s after graduating from Northeast Tech Community College in Norfolk, and she decided to spend her career boosting the confidence and self-esteem of others.
One of Pohlmann’s primary duties is to support students with academic and behavior situations. Teachers and other staff members contact her throughout the day about additional students who may have needs.
Pohlmann speaks with each student and learns why they are in need of assistance. She then helps them take positive steps to overcome those obstacles.
“I don’t agree with the things that they do, but I always tell them that I’m not going to leave you,” Pohlmann said. “I tell them that I believe in you and that you are going to turn it around and be a good kid. If you tell someone that you believe in them, it makes a world of difference. It might be the one thing that they’re looking to hear.”
“She helps students when they have trouble focusing in class and get sent to our student support room,” Haines said. “She processes with them and helps them to make it right with the teacher or other students by practicing an apology and then creating a plan to be successful in class moving forward.”
Pohlmann has guided many Pound leaders as well. She helped train Haines when he first came to the building as an assistant principal. She has also taught new administrators about the school’s systems and procedures over the past few years.
Pohlmann works extensively with Marrie Nannen throughout the school day. Nannen has been a paraeducator at Pound for 22 years and runs the in-school suspension/student support room. She assists Pohlmann when they receive calls or messages about students who need help and encouragement.
Pohlmann said it has been beneficial to work with someone who has the same type of experienced background.
“Marrie starts the process and then I come in if they need more support,” Pohlmann said. “I’ve worked really closely with her in this position for four years, and I’d say there’s definitely a bond there. We’ve seen a lot.”
Pohlmann said it is fulfilling to see students turn around their lives. She shared one story about a boy who is now in a safe place. He had been in her office multiple times while he was in middle school, and she learned that he was facing many obstacles outside of the school building. He is currently doing much better in his personal life.
“I was so grateful to see him at the end of last year,” Pohlmann said. “He had been dealt some bad hands in life and he was in trouble, and he told me things that were pretty hard to hear. At the end of that he hugged me and he said, ‘I love you.’ He said I was the mom figure he never had.
“That’s the most rewarding thing about this job. I know how kindhearted kids can be, and there are a lot of times when the only thing they need is for someone to care about them. It’s why we do it. They need help, and if we’re able to give them that help, then we should do that.”
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Published: November 1, 2023, Updated: November 1, 2023