Veteran first-grade teacher Lara Garber is Norwich Teacher of the Year

From left, Norwich schools Superintendent Abby Dolliver; Teacher of the Year Lara Garber, a first-grade teacher at the Samuel Huntington School; and Huntington Principal Siobhan O'Conner.

Norwich — Lara Garber, a 24-year Norwich teaching veteran who still finds first grade fresh and new, was honored Thursday as the school district’s 2014 Teacher of the Year. 

Garber has taught first grade for all but one year of her teaching career and currently is the first grade teacher at Samuel Huntington School. She also has taught at the former Greeneville and Bishop schools. 

Garber had a busy final day of school planned Thursday — saying goodbye to parents and helping to plan a retirement party for 30-year teacher Peg Herbert. 

Then Superintendent Abby Dolliver entered her classroom. 

“I figured she was going to give me some news of the day,” Garber said. 

She did, with balloons and flowers. 

Dolliver said Garber was the unanimous selection of the seven-member committee that includes three past teachers of the year. Dolliver called her a “quiet leader” who runs a great classroom. But behind the scenes, Garber speaks her mind about teaching trends, mandates and changes and works well with other teachers. 

Dolliver said she asked Garber’s students Thursday morning why she should get the teacher of the year award. “Because she’s a great teacher,” the youngsters told her. 

Garber’s husband, Michael Garber, an instructional literacy specialist in Norwich Public Schools, was named Teacher of the Year several years ago. 

Lara Garber said when she told their son, Max, who finished fourth grade at Huntington Thursday, about her award, he said: “Hey, Dad did this.” 

For Lara Garber, the young students keep her going. 

“Everything is so exciting and new to them, so that’s what makes me keep coming back,” she said. 

Garber said she works closely with her peers to decipher all the changes coming to the teaching profession. She said in some ways, experienced teachers are having a more difficult time with the added requirements and assessments than younger teachers. 

“You have to be ready to change, willing to change,” she said. “Since I’ve been doing it a long time, I want to work with other teachers to try to get (the profession) into the best place it can be.”


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