LINCOLN — Brenda Larabee, an English teacher at Stuart Public School, was awarded the Carol MacDaniels Teacher of the Year Award by the Nebraska Writing Project (NeWP) at the organization's spring gathering on May 3 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Student Union.
NeWP is a professional organization consisting of preschool-college teachers from across the state with membership also in the National Writing Project.
This award recognizes the work of a Nebraska teacher who exemplifies the principles for which NeWP stands for and who has made a significant contribution to writing education in the state. This award honors teachers who not only teach writing well but inspire other teachers, connect school to community or publicly advocate for teacher expertise.
Larabee is the 10-12 English language arts teacher, speech coach, play production director and yearbook advisor at Stuart Public School. She was nominated by Nebraska Writing Project Co-Director Jan Knispel and letters of recommendation and
support were written by co-workers and students both past and present.
"Mrs. Larabee is by far the most genuine, caring and passionate teacher ever. In her eyes, we — her students — always come first. She provided me with a deep understanding of our state’s English curriculum, but she also supplied me with the skills and tools that she knew would be essential in the future. She molded me into a better version of myself," wrote a former student.
The Carol MacDaniels Teacher of the Year Award doesn’t only honor great classroom teaching, it also honors teachers who advocate for other teachers.
Several of the supporting letters for Brenda touched on her influence for her teaching peers. One young person about to enter the profession wrote, "Although I graduated high school four years ago and am about to tackle my first year as a middle school English teacher, Mrs. Larabee still reaches out to me and my fellow classmates regularly. She keeps track of our collegiate life and accomplishments and is sure to extend her congratulations on our successes. Of course she would never take credit for it, but much of the success we have achieved is because of her dedication to our education and well-being.”
Larabee has been a contributing presence in the NeWP since 2010 when she participated in her first summer institute. Since then, she has served continuously on the advisory board, completed a full-term as co-director and helped launch both NeWP's Youth Writing Festival and Nebraska Education Technology Association partnership. Larabee facilitated the 2015 and 2019 summer institutes.