KATY MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2019
By Natalie Cook Clark
At Katy's Pattison Elementary visitors might experience deja vu. In reality, they're seeing double - identical twin sisters pursuing their passion for teaching. Dianna Polnac and Laura Sanders teach second and third grades, respectively. And for the first time, the sisters teach in adjacent classrooms leaving students wondering if they are seeing double.
Dianna Polnac and Laura Sanders at Pattison Elementary
Destined to Teach
Identical twins Dianna and Laura Scharnberg were born in Lake Jackson Midland, Michigan.
"Our dad, Joe Scharnberg was an accountant and auditor for Dow Chemical (when we were growing up) and later in his career with smaller companies in the oil/gas industry," says Dianna. "Prior to mom's (Priscilla Scharnberg retirement, she was working in Human Resources at Dow Chemical. She has since had various jobs to keep involved in the Katy community."
"We always loved playing school and would take turns being student and teacher," says Laura. "We had no other siblings so it was nice always having someone to play with."
"I decided in third grade that I wanted to be a teacher," says Dianna. "I loved my teacher. She was so much fun and we were always trying new things.
Laura, left and Dianna right
As they grew up, their school playtime turned into real-world work as they both pursued careers in education. The twins started their college careers at Texas Tech but earned their degrees from Texas A&M in 1993.
Planting Roots in Katy
"Our parents moved to Katy while we were in college so we both decided to student teach there to be close to family," says Laura. "I student taught at Fielder Elementary and then started at Pattison in 2003."
"I always wanted to teach math, and third grade is such a big year," says Laura. "I remember my third grade teacher, Mrs. Hansen. She taught us how to multiply and I felt so grown up."
Teaching: An Easy and Early Decision
"Teaching is all I ever wanted to do and I stuck with it," says Dianna.
She was a student teacher and taught third grade at Wolf Elementary before interviewing for the second grade post at Pattison. She took a job at Pattison in 1994 and has been there ever since.
"I love second grade," says Dianna. "They are still so excited to learn and everything is magical and I can see that in their writing. Writing has always been my love."
While the sisters have been together at Pattison for many years, this marks the first school year with neighboring classrooms.
"It's funny because my husband always questions why we're on the phone all the time since we work in the same building and I have to explain how we have totally different schedules and never see each other," says Dianna. "This year it's nice to be able to pop my head in to say, "hi." On the first day we walked in from the parking lot together."
Inside Pattison, some of the third grade classrooms share a hallway with some second grade classrooms. That explains the close proximity of the siblings.
"It has caused some confusion, and we don't want to embarrass anyone," says Sanders. "We also would have parents come see the wrong twin on Meet the Teacher night, so we find ourselves explaining the twin thing a lot, which we're happy to do."
The Cool Twins to Students
"I brought Laura into my class and introduced her to them," explains Dianna. "I had already told them that I had a twin and the kids think it is cool. But this way they can see her and avoid confusion in the hall."
Raising Families in Katy
Not only are the sisters teaching near each other, but they are raising their families by each other as well. Dianna is married to Monty Polnac, who owns a local carpet and tile business. Their daughter Alison recently graduated from Taylor High School and attends Liberty University. Their son, Payton is a freshman at Taylor High School.
Laura is married to Jon Sanders, who works for BP. They have three sons. Brandon, a junior at Mississippi State, Travis, a junior at Cinco Ranch High School, and Caleb, a third grader at Williams Elementary.
"It is interesting being a third grade teacher and a mom to a third grader," says Laura. "I try to back off and just be mom."
TWIN FAVES: Alike or Different?
Dianna - Home. Dinner out with the family because then I don’t have to cook! Other than that ... kind of a home body!
Laura - Probably an eating establishment — we love Chuy’s, Lupe Tortilla, and Willies
Dianna - Country and Contemporary Christian
Laura - Country Western, specifically George Strait
Dianna - Mexican
Laura - Mexican
Dianna - Anything by Melanie Shankle
Laura - Wonder by R.J Palacio
Dianna - Traveling to new places with the family or just hanging out with the family
Laura - Traveling, spending time watching sports (especially college football)
Twins and Best Friends
"We have different schedules but we're best friends. Being able to work for the same great school is just a dream," says Dianna. "I absolutely love what I do. Seeing the students' excitement makes me want to come back each year."