Fresno County's Teacher of the Year

October 31, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Believe in your students and they will rise to your highest expectations. That is the motto of a Valley teacher who was just awarded a big and deserving honor, Fresno County's Teacher of the Year.It was exciting and unexpected, but Nereida Barba doesn't take all the credit. "It's a team effort here at Liberty. I wasn't up there standing alone, every teacher was up there with me."

Back in her class at Liberty Intermediate School in Kerman, Mrs. Barba is back in action, doing what she loves best. "I am mom and they are all my children and they will be my children until they graduate from college."

And Barba expects every one of her students to work hard toward that goal.

"Before you get to the academics you need to make them feel safe, make them feel loved, make them feel respected; and after that you can teach them anything," said Barba.

Her former students can attest to that. "She loved us and she cared about us and she explained lessons so good that I didn't even have to ask for a second time. She explained it good, she is an awesome teacher," said Micael Carillo.

And she wants them to know they can count on her even after school. They all have her home and cell phone numbers, in case they need help of any kind. "I've had kids call me in the middle of the night because they've run away from home. We get them back to where they are supposed to be."

A criminology Major, Mrs. Barba first worked at juvenile hall but soon realized her true calling was teaching. "I realized that we need to get to the kids before they started getting into different types of problems and one of the only ways was thru education."

Now she is inspiring others to do the same. Debbie Shelton, who did her student teaching in Barba's class said, "As far as showing my kids unconditional love, wanting what is the very best for them and academically they are just soaring now and it's all because of Mrs. Barba."

Her dedication and leadership in the classroom has also helped raise school test scores. "She would go over and over things. If someone didn't get it she would just go over and over until we had it in our head," said Kathryn Voelkeo.

"You'll find Neraida at school every Saturday morning, early Monday thru Friday or late after school and her husband Tony right along with her, and it's all about student achievement," said Principal Pamela Millspaugh.

Mrs. Barba said it's as simple as believing in her students so they will believe in themselves. "We are a family in here. We are going to work together and empowered each other and make each other stronger."

Neriada Barba and her husband, whose also a teacher at liberty intermediate, both teach a Saturday class for migrant students and their parents. Other Educator of the Year winners for 2008 are; Steve Fusi, Fresno County Employee of the Year and Victoria Armstrong, Administrator of the Year.



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