Everyone has a memorable teacher: The one who stood out among the others, influenced you and made a big difference in your life.
My son, Danny, who never cared for school before this year, has a teacher he will never forget. She has given him a love of learning that I hope will stay with him for a lifetime.
Her name is Wanda Barber and when I heard she won Teacher of the Year at Odell Elementary, an award that is well deserved, I knew I had to write about her.
The first thing I learned was that I am not alone in my deep admiration of my son's teacher.
"Mrs. Barber is a superhero, the Wonder Woman of learning. She is armed with knowledge, patience, understanding, kindness and 100percent dedication," said Stephanie Hafiz, whose daughter, Sommer, had Mrs. Barber last year.
Barber is a native North Carolinian. Grew up in Gastonia, attended Livingstone College in Salisbury, and now lives in Concord. She has been teaching second grade for 18 years. This is her third year at Odell Elementary.
"She puts her heart and soul into creating an environment the children can thrive in, both academically and emotionally," Hafiz said.
Barber explained, "My love of learning and knowing that I would have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children are the reasons I became a teacher.
"I did not want to be just another teacher in the eyes of my students, but one they would always remember because of the learning experiences I engaged them in and someone who genuinely cared about them."
Each Teacher of the Year is given the option of competing for Cabarrus County Teacher of the year or staying on the school level. Barber is planning to compete on the county level.
"I give 100percent of myself to my students each day," she said. "I am a firm believer that all children can learn and they each bring a special gift to our classroom family.
"My job is to help each child develop that gift. I promote and encourage my students to be creative, take risks and develop strategies to tackle both concrete and abstract problems."
I asked Barber what a good teacher is.
"Teaching is more than just reading, writing and arithmetic," she said. "Some days I must be teacher, mother, father, counselor or just a friend. My students know that no matter what, I am always here for them even when they are no longer students in my classroom."
Now that is what I call a very memorable teacher. Good luck in the competition, Mrs. Barber. If anyone deserves to win, it is you.