Ariela Paulsen
Teacher and Freelance writer/artist, Burlington School District, Mansfield Cooperative School, Vermont Adult Learning, Mighty Well

Ariela Paulsen is an educator, freelance writer, and artist in Burlington. She received a BA in Visual and Performing Arts, as well as a MAT from Clark University. Since graduating, she has taught at a variety of alternative schools and has recently been writing for Mighty Well, a company dedicated to helping "patients and their caregivers turn sickness into strength... leading the global charge that changes the perception of patients from victims to fighters."

Born and raised in rural Vermont, Ari has chosen to live and teach in Burlington. Despite being known as a liberal and welcoming city, Burlington faces its own challenges. A declining population, opiate crisis, shifting economy, and influx of new Americans in a historically homogeneous populous has brought to light some shifts necessary to ensure equity for all Vermonters. Ari is deeply connected to the land and people of Vermont, and committed to playing a role in its development at this crucial time.

As an educator, Ari's philosophy is holistic, caring for each student in small settings with equity as the central focus. As the sole teacher at YouthBuild, a non-profit high school completion program, she taught all academic subjects. She currently teaches art at two alternative education programs, as well as a variety of courses at Vermont Adult Learning.

Her work with Mighty Well, as well as much of her unpaid time, is spent in the chronic illness "spoonie" community. She writes blogs, gives talks at local hospitals, and supports individual patients with their search for diagnoses. She is currently developing a health tracker app.

From a young age, art and nature have been Ari's greatest passions. She paints personal and commissioned works, sells glassware and prints on Etsy, and finds solace in artistic expression. Whether as exercise, inspiration for painting, or peace of mind, she spends as much time as she can immersed in forests and mountains.