Before the start of each school year, you can catch Nancy Lara knocking on the doors of her students so they know when they walk into her classroom on the first day of school they will be entering an environment that promotes learning and supports student achievement.
Lara is a first grade teacher at Ben Milam Elementary School, and as a former Milam student, she’s seen her return to the campus as a way to give back to the community that gave her an academic start, she said.
“I came back to share my experiences with the students and parents of the Milam community,” said Lara.
On her tenth year as a teacher, Lara has developed the philosophy that the most effective classroom is one that tailors to the needs of each child, she said. It has helped her as she’s embarked on her newest venture in her classroom, which is as a dual language academy teacher. Also assisting the transition is that she, like some of the students in her classroom, is a native Spanish speaker. They are experiences that she uses in her relate to her students and create more meaningful lessons.
“I love the program,” said Lara. “It’s a lot of work and preparation, but when you see the students gain more confidence in what they are learning, it has a big impact.”
Teaching is the path she always saw for herself. At five she can remember telling those around her that she knew that education would be her path in life. Although, she may have had some resistance from others, she ultimately followed her heart and began teaching in 2003.
“I always tell people that it’s a calling and not a job,” said Lara. “If you don’t have the heart for the kids, you wont survive.”
Her enthusiasm is something she tries to share with parents as much as possible. Throughout the year, she aims to educate them about the importance of parental support when it comes increasing academic performance. It’s partially the reason why she begins each year with the home visit, she said.
Her passion continues as her goal is to one day become a campus counselor. When not in her classroom, you can find her having lunch with her students. She also volunteers her free time to the children’s ministry at the church where her father is a pastor.