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Scottsbluff teacher honored by Soroptimists
March 25, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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At the group’s 2016 Awards Ceremony on March 17, Soroptimists International of Scotts Bluff County presented their Ruby Award to Scottsbluff High School Special Education teacher Barb O’Boyle.

The ruby is a gemstone associated with wisdom, vitality and strength – all the qualities of the strong and compassionate women who win the award.

“Those are traits Barb shows in her everyday world. She works for her family and is trying to better her education,” said Soroptimist member Jan Rahmig, who encouraged O’Boyle to apply for the award.
“With the professionalism she’s shown, she’s most certainly trying to make a difference in the world for women, girls and her profession.
That’s what our organization stands for.”

After O’Boyle wrote an essay for consideration, she was announced as the winner a couple of weeks later.

In her essay, O’Boyle said she’s first and foremost a mother for the past 24 years. “When we moved here from Georgia, I went back to school to get the credits I needed so I could be a substitute teacher.”

After starting her work as a substitute, she realized she wanted to get into teaching full time. While she continued going to school, she worked in sales while raising a family. “It’s been difficult at times because of my work and family schedule, but I kept taking what classes I could each semester,” she said.

Two years ago, O’Boyle was offered a teaching position in special education at Scottsbluff High School. She was also allowed to obtain a provisional teaching certificate for three years, while she completes her second bachelor’s degree in special education. She plans to graduate in December 2016.

“I like to think I’m a good example for my own children in struggling to balance all of this,” she said. “Especially for my daughters, I hope this is a good example of what they can also accomplish.”

O’Boyle said that working with special needs students has been a rewarding and humbling experience. “I cannot count the number of times that I have been caught completely off guard by the home situations that many of my students have to deal with on a daily basis,” she said. “Although I’m paid to educate my students, I believe the biggest part of my job as a teacher is to provide a safe and secure place for my students, and also to help develop their confidence and individual strengths.”

She said being a teacher at her age is a little different. She brings a lot of life experience to the table. Two of her children have graduated from college and are employed. The other two are still completing their college programs.

“It’s never too late to return to school,” she said. “You have to be persistent in pursuing your goals.”

She added she would have liked to have started her degree program earlier, but would have missed out on experiencing all the things she did with her children when they were growing up.

“Raising the kids was also very important to me, so I really feel like it all worked out the way it was supposed to. Life is always a journey.”
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