Inside the Classroom: Barb Dobner

“Every day is a new adventure.” After teaching at The Franciscan School for 15 years, Barb Dobner continues to find new ways to teach and engage her Kindergarten students. It is this commitment and innovation that has found Dobner as a finalist for the 2022-2023 Monsignor Gerald Lawrence Lewis Award for Excellence in Teaching.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois, Dobner served as an instructional reading assistant and fourth grade teacher in the Joliet Public School District. She then moved to North Carolina where she taught the Faith Formation class at St. Francis of Assisi church. Dobner spent the next twelve years lovingly serving and teaching the preschool children at the St. Francis Preschool. 

In 2008, Dobner was hired to be a 2nd grade Instructional Teaching Assistant at TFS. She then moved into first grade where she taught for the next nine years. The last six years of Dobner’s career have been spent in Kindergarten where she can rewardingly see the fruits of her work with the children. To Dobner, it's the students who motivate her work each and every day. “As they begin to understand new concepts, their faces during those light bulb moments encourage me and bring me so much joy.” She is constantly evaluating her teaching and finding what works well, as well as where she wants to strive to do better.

The Monsignor Gerald Lawrence Lewis Award for Excellence in Teaching was initiated in 1992 to honor superlative classroom teachers, grades K-12, who have illustrated strong commitment to their students, colleagues, and schools and to their family, church, and civic communities. Many worthy teachers are nominated each year, but only three are selected as finalists. TFS is proud to have Dobner as one of those three finalists this year. The award’s recipient will be selected in March. 

“Mrs. Dobner places great emphasis on creating a classroom based on a strong faith community,” shares TFS Principal Dawn Smith. “She builds the foundation to teach children the traditions of the Catholic faith as well as the aspiration to be a lifelong learner. On the last day of school, a long line of 8th graders bid Mrs. Dobner farewell. This shows her ongoing influence on current and prior students.” 

Dobner shares that she is frequently visited by alumni and older students. She enjoys the interactions she has daily with students and fellow teachers. “I love that TFS is more than a school community,” says Dobner. “It is a family. I love the relationships that are made with the students, their families, and my colleagues here. I also appreciate that I can share my faith with my students in the classroom and by going to Mass each week.”

Dobner is honored and grateful to be nominated as a finalist for the Award. “To be recognized as an Excellence in Teaching nominee and now finalist is the highlight of my career.  I never thought I would be among this distinguished group of educators. It means the world to me.”

We are incredibly thankful for Mrs. Dobner’s tireless dedication to our school community, as well as all of the remarkable teachers here at TFS.

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