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Childhood dream of teaching turned into reality for Barr

Editor’s Note: The Advocate will feature the Butler County School District’s Teachers of the Year in upcoming issues. This week: Paige Barr, GHS Teacher of the Year and Secondary Teacher of the Year.

When Paige Barr was 6 years old, Santa brought her a chalkboard.

Barr set up her chalkboard in an enclosed patio, along with old textbooks and some well-behaved baby dolls.

“I never had younger brothers or sisters to boss around, so I looked after my baby dolls,” Barr said.

Barr played teacher to her plastic pupils, she said, making sure they “did their homework and paid attention in class.”

Now at age 40, her childhood play activity has become her full-time job, one that has earned her the distinction of being the 2010 Greenville High School Teacher of the Year and Butler County Secondary Teacher of the Year.

She got her start in education 17 years ago, teaching kindergarten, first grade and third grade. She left primary education to return to school. After getting her master’s degree as a reading specialist, she took a position at GHS.

Looking back, Barr said she never imagined teaching any other age group.

“When I was in elementary school, high school was the last place I wanted to be,” Barr said.

Barr teaches reading to those who struggle with literacy, as well as those that have failed the reading portion of the Alabama High School Graduation Exam. She also heads GHS’s reading initiative, where she works with other teachers to implement literacy education into other subjects.

“Today’s jobs demand literacy skills,” Barr said. “Even a mechanic or a construction worker is expected to read directions.”

Barr said beyond that, literacy leads to a better job and lifestyle.

“It pays to be educated,” Barr said. “If you want lead a comfortable life and get a higher paying job, you have to have reading skills.”

Also, she said literacy leads to higher education. In today’s job market, she explained, even fast food workers need to know how to use technology. Literate students are continuing learners, she said, and can pick these skills up as they go.

Barr, along with Sharon Ray, will be eligible to be named Alabama Teacher of the Year. Both Butler County teachers will represent their county at the state level later this year.