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She teaches teachers to teach

February 27, 2006|By KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

karenh@herald-mail.com

A humanities major and one-time eye doctor's assistant, former Washington County Teacher of the Year finalist Jen LaBombard has spent a good part of her career in the classroom ? much of it as a student.

For LaBombard, who left the day-to-day routine of middle school science to help other teachers get better at their craft, learning is a lifelong process.

"I think that I will always be a student. No matter how many classes, or how many degrees, I will always be a student, and the students teach me as much as I teach them," the 32-year-old said during an interview at Washington County Public Schools' Central Office in Hagerstown.

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Since being a finalist for Teacher of the Year last year, LaBombard said she continues to learn about teaching, but these days, the lesson involve adults. A former science department chairwoman, LaBombard left Western Heights Middle School in the fall to become the school system's secondary staff-development specialist.

"It's a big change from teaching seventh-graders and coming in and teaching adults. It's very different, still very rewarding," said LaBombard, who travels to schools in the system training other teachers strategies they can pass on to their colleagues.

The mother of a third-grader, LaBombard lives in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. She said she enjoys traveling to her son's swim meets and Cub Scout outings and spending time with her family.

When she first went to the State University of New York Oswego, LaBombard said she intended to pursue a teaching career. Instead, she came away with a degree in language arts and humanities.

"I also had a minor in science, so I guess I'm a well-rounded person there," LaBombard said.

For a while, LaBombard worked as an optometric assistant in New York, but then gave in to the pull of the classroom.

"When I was working, those ideas of coming back and being a teacher, I really started thinking more about them," LaBombard said.

She went to Loyola College in Baltimore for her master's degree in curriculum and instruction, and she began teaching in Howard County schools. She said she has also taught education students at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Now in her fourth year in Washington County Public Schools, LaBombard is hoping to examine comparisons between American education and international education while pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership online through Walden University.

She said she has always learned a lot from her students, and they seemed to learn best when they were teaching each other.

"I think teaching, you're inspiring young minds to create something, to be the rocket scientist, to be those grand people, and by teaching, you're inspiring in students to be something they might not otherwise see in themselves," LaBombard said.

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