Curtain Call: Mr. Paulin

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Mr. Paulin

Mr. Paulin and his wife Christa have two kids, Lucy (3 years old) and Leo (6 months).

Isadora Blatt, Staff Writer

“He’s more than hardworking,” said Jerry Huber (‘24), a three-year member of theater tech and a current member of Advanced Theater Production (ATP). “He works on the shows probably twice the amount of time that we go to school.” After four years of dedication to the theater tech department, Mr. AJ Paulin will depart from Bishop’s and transition to a professorship at California Baptist University – where he got his undergraduate degree in theater tech. “Mr. Paulin’s shoes are really big, and it’s going to be hard to fill them,” Jerry remarked thoughtfully.

Over the past four years, Mr. Paulin has impacted theater tech at Bishop’s in countless ways. Whether it’s in terms of the size and complexity of the sets themselves or the community of students in the tech classes he teaches, he has done endless work to promote the growth of the department.

Mr. Paulin became interested in working at Bishop’s when he had just finished graduate school at San Diego State University and was looking to get into teaching. “When I came on campus for my interviews, I was really taken aback by the amount of focus that the arts get,” he said, explaining how Bishop’s drew him in. “What kept me here is the people that I’ve worked with,” he continued.

Mr. Paulin especially appreciated the ATP class he taught in his first year, which was a small group of seniors. “They were ready to go,” he laughed, “but they put up with me and really made it an enjoyable experience.” Through this group, he came to learn much more about the student environment at Bishop’s. “I didn’t really understand how advanced the Bishop’s school was in terms of academics until I sat down and had conversations with them,” he reflected. “They just brought more to the table. The bare minimum wasn’t good enough; they always wanted to go above and beyond.”

Mr. Paulin has always fostered a strong community in the tech department. “After I was first introduced to theater tech in MT8 (Musical Theater 8), Mr. Paulin sort of indoctrinated me into it,” Jerry joked. “He was really welcoming, and I could tell how good he is at what he does.” Kenneth Xiong (‘23) also started working with Mr. Paulin in his eighth grade year. “He gets you hooked onto tech early so that you don’t ever, ever leave,” he agreed.

One of Mr. Paulin’s core values is the respect that he has always given to his students. “I like to treat ATP not as students, but as co-designers and colleagues,” he said, “because we’re all working towards the goal of putting on a production.” He described the tech environment as very collaborative, and as a continuous give-and-take. “Since I’ve established that team-focused environment, it has that close-knit aspect as well,” he explained.

This atmosphere has proven to be important for the success of the group. “We’re artists, and we produce our art live on stage. If we don’t trust each other and we don’t have that tight relationship, [the tech process] can become very cumbersome,” he said.

Kenneth deeply appreciated the sense of family that Mr. Paulin has built within tech. “There’s not much that unites all of us,” he noted. “We all have different interests and do tech for different reasons– some of use like building, some like lighting, or some like costumes. Despite that, when you meet another techie or see them in a show, you’re instantly buddies, and I think that sense of kinship is what has kept me doing tech.”

Mr. Paulin is most grateful for how he’s been able to watch so many students grow up over the years he’s been at Bishop’s. “I’ve seen an entire class go from freshmen to seniors,” he noted. “Even beyond the tech department, but in the performing arts as a whole, I’ve been fortunate enough to watch every single one of you grow up. Even if I haven’t had a ton of interactions with you, I can see how much you’ve grown.”