The technological tools available to teachers today are dramatically different than they were 43 years ago. So are some parenting techniques.

But as far as Abbie Perttula is concerned, students are building brainpower the same way they always have.

“Now they use iPads, whereas before they used paper and pencil, but it’s the same learning,” she said. “Their ability to put a report together is the same. Just now, they can get more information on the Web than they could before. It’s the same kind of report. It’s the same way of presenting information. It’s the same skills in different media.”

Perttula has seen the evolution of education over the course of her career, which is coming to an end after 43 years at PS1 in Santa Monica. The private K-6 school’s longtime teacher is retiring.

Originally from Southern California, Perttula went to college at San Francisco State and earned later earned a master’s in human development from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena. Her thesis explored the concept of learned helplessness.

Perttula’s love of children led her into the education field, where she has aimed to take a humanistic, holistic approach.

“School needs to be fun,” she said. “Kids need to learn in playfulness and happiness. I don’t think a drudgery-type school benefits anybody.”

Perttula came to PS1 not as a teacher, but as a parent. She was looking for a suitable school for her daughter, who was 5 years old at the time, and took a liking to the campus climate there.

“She graduated and I didn’t,” Perttula said.

A resident of Sunset Park since 1978, Pertulla carved out a professional home at the Broadway school, teaching children in all the elementary grades.

Over the last two years, she has spearheaded the school’s STEAM studio. Equipped with everything from computers and 3-D printers to cordless drills and wooden puzzles, it’s designed to foster hands-on exploration and critical thinking while promoting collaboration and experimentation.

“That’s the fun part — bringing what you’re learning into real life,” she said. “One class made a whole city with wires underneath a board of plywood to light up the city. They even had windmills for electricity. They could be city planners.”

As her career has progressed, Perttula has noticed that children seem to have more and more structured time: soccer practices, music lessons, art classes and beyond. Unstructured downtime can be just as important, she said.

“What I’ve really observed is that children learn wherever they are,” she said. “They’re like sponges, whether you homeschool your kid or send them to this school or that school.”

Perttula has always liked the vibe at PS1, which she said promotes good citizenship and a sense of community. It made her happy to see her own children send their children to PS1, which counts five of her grandchildren among its student population.

In retirement, Perttula is planning to travel with her retired husband and have the luxury of being able to take flights and stay at hotels during non-peak times of the year. She also wants to spend more time on knitting, learn Spanish and take sculpting classes.

She expects the transition into retirement to take a few months, though, since she’s used to a summer break.

“I think in September is when it’s going to hit me,” she said.

jeff@www.smdp.com