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Barb Sylvester

Barb Sylvester

4th Grade
25 years of experience 

Excerpt from Teacher of the Year application

To me, teaching is important because:
To me, teaching is important because I have been given a small role to play in a child’s development, not only academically, but socially, and emotionally. It’s so important to me to show a precious child that his/her idea matter. I hope that child knows that he/she is understood and cared for by a teacher. I am hopeful every day to be able to make a connection with a child through a funny story or sharing examples of my own childhood with them.

What other profession is there where a person is tasked with shaping another person’s future? I realize I might be the only adult in that child’s life who has listened to or hugged him/her that particular day. To understand and empathize with a child who has just lost a parent or who is struggling with family issues is a huge responsibility, and one that I have taken seriously throughout my career. I know that I didn’t reach every child, but I was mindful that a simple smile or story to share would let them know their self-worth.

Teaching is such a fulfilling profession that is evidence in so many ways, especially in the day in and out of small successes of a child. The smile on a child’s face who had been having difficulty with long division, and one day “gets it” is so thrilling to me. To see her eyes sparkle when she has successfully reduced fractions to the simplest for are pure delight.

I have been a sales clerk at a department store and a grocery store, a waitress, a legal secretary and a court reporter. None of those jobs/professions come close to being as important, rewarding, inspiring, or challenging as being an educator.     

I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity to teach children. Someone once said that education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire. I only hope that I have perhaps given a spark for the students I have taught to achieve their dreams and believe in themselves. I have always told my students that hard work equals success. I know that I’ve worked hard at this profession; I hope I’ve been successful!