It wasn’t long after she started attending school that Barb McCauley realized she wanted to stay in school for life.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “I just loved school, and in first and second grade, I was already saying, ‘I’m going to be a teacher someday.’
“I’ve been fortunate to be able to follow my dream,” said McCauley, who teaches second grade at Stevenson Elementary School in Grandview Heights. “I count my blessings every day because I love what I do every day.”
McCauley is starting her 31st year as a teacher, all working in Grandview Heights Schools.
She was announced as the district’s 2018-19 Teacher of the Year on Aug. 13 at the annual staff convocation, held the day before the school year begins.
Learning she had been selected as Teacher of the Year “totally took me off guard. It was a total surprise,” McCauley said. “I didn’t know why I was being singled out because I work with an amazing group of colleagues every day.”
Teaching in Grandview involves collaboration, not only with other second-grade teachers but also with staff members throughout the district, she said.
“We have a lot of opportunities in Grandview for professional development and sharing ideas with our colleagues,” McCauley said. “We’re able to succeed as teachers because of the support we have from our school board, administrators, parents and the community.
“Grandview is a place where you want to teach, and once you’re here, you never want to leave,” she said.
McCauley and her husband, Jim, have three children who graduated from Grandview – Andy, class of 2013; Megan, class of 2015; and Joe, class of 2017.
During her 30-year career, McCauley has been a kindergarten and reading-support teacher but has spent most of her time teaching second-graders. She earned a master’s degree in education in 2008 and is a National Board Certified Teacher.
“What I love about teaching second grade is watching the sense of independence the students develop throughout the year,” she said. “They start to recognize there’s a world around them and what they do does impact others. They are beginning to develop a respect for others.”
In second grade, students are beginning to “take ownership” of their learning, McCauley said.
“One of my favorite things is when a student is sitting and reading and they start laughing out loud themselves,” she said. “That’s a signal that they are enjoying reading and it’s not work for them.”
The most rewarding part of teaching is witnessing the moment a student who is struggling through a process or trying to solve a problem “suddenly gets it,” McCauley said.
“The light bulb turns on and their face lights up – ‘I got this!’ That’s what it’s all about as a teacher,” she said. “That’s the reward you get all the time. It’s always a great feeling to see them gaining independence as learners.
“What I hope is that my students are developing a sense of confidence and independence and problem-solving skills to keep them curious and wondering,” McCauley said. “That will lead to more success as they progress through school and life.”
McCauley was nominated for the Teacher of the Year award by kindergarten teacher Joe Liptrap.
Liptrap said McCauley’s “love for kids is always overwhelmingly present. I have witnessed countless occasions of her stopping everything she is doing to help a student that might not even be in her class.
“Barb always does the right thing and puts kids first, because she knows that it is what’s right in her heart,” Liptrap said. “She simply does it because she is always striving to be a light and make a positive impact in people’s lives.”