‘The love of learning’: Quail Run educator selected as Lawrence Master Teacher

photo by: Lawrence Public Schools

Quail Run Elementary School teacher Paula Barr is surrounded by students after receiving the Lawrence school district’s 2018-2019 Master Teacher Award, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018.

If Quail Run second-grade teacher Paula Barr wasn’t a born teacher, she came to the profession at a very young age, her father Steve Owens said.

“She was teaching in kindergarten,” he said. “She had all the other kids around her, teaching them.”

Owens, of Manhattan, recalled his daughter’s early love for teaching while he, his daughter’s husband, Rich Barr, and the couple’s two daughters, Lauren and Carrie Barr, waited to see Paula be surprised with the Lawrence school district’s 2018-2019 Master Teacher Award.

In presenting the award at an all-school assembly, Lawrence Superintendent Anthony Lewis said Barr was a passionate and influential teacher and mentor, who is known for being an early advocate of blended learning, which incorporates online materials and small-group work into the classroom.

“She’s so good, she helps other teachers become better,” he told the students at the assembly. “When parents find out their children are going to be in her class, they get very excited. Her focus is always on you.”

Lewis had visited Barr’s classroom, he said, and was impressed that students sitting at their desks before the first morning bell had even rung would break out their laptops and start their lessons.

In her remarks, Barr accepted the award, which came with a $2,500 award from Truity Credit Union, on behalf of her fellow Quail Run teachers.

“I had already picked out two or three teachers I knew would be standing up here,” she said. “We do this job because of the love of learning. We just want to make sure when you leave the school’s doors you have had the most exciting day you can have. This is more than a job for me; this is my life.”

Barr is in her 37th year of teaching after graduating from Kansas State University. She came to the Lawrence school district in 1995 after 13 years in the Shawnee Mission school district. She is in her third year at Quail Run after previous postings at Kennedy and Hillcrest elementary schools.

Barr has received other honors in the district, including the 2013-14 Lawrence Elementary Teacher of the Year award and the 2004 Excellence in Teaching Award, also known as the Bobs Award. Additionally, in 2015 she was named Blended and Online Learning Teacher of the Year at a national symposium in Florida.

The district annually selects a teacher with at least five years of experience for the Master Teacher Award. The winner is nominated for Emporia State University’s Kansas Master Teacher Award program.

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