Oak Harbor Public Schools recently named Lynn Goebel Teacher of the Year. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Oak Harbor Public Schools recently named Lynn Goebel Teacher of the Year. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Retiring Oak Harbor school district teacher earns top honor

Lynn Goebel has been an educator for more than three decades, but that doesn’t mean she’s ever stopped being a student.

“She’s truly a lifelong learner,” said Superintendent Lance Gibbon. “I think that’s what makes her such a great teacher.”

Goebel retired in June after 18 years teaching in the Oak Harbor School District, and before the final bell rang on her last day, the district awarded her Teacher of the Year.

“There are so many incredible teachers,” Goebel said. “You’re just like, ‘How did this happen?’”

She has spent the last six years as a Title 1 learning assistance program teacher at Broadview Elementary School. In the federal Title 1 program, she focused on helping kindergarten through fourth graders who were struggling to learn to read.

She’s seen students come to school not knowing the ABC’s and leave with the ability to read and comprehend close to grade level.

“It’s just so fun to watch struggling kids finally get that,” she said. “Suddenly, it’s easy.”

Her ability successfully help students reach their goals is a result of her constant research and effort to improve “her craft,” Gibbon said.

Goebel graduated from Texas Tech University with an elementary education degree and specialty in reading. In Oak Harbor, she’s taught third, fourth and sixth grade. During her time with the district, she also coached teachers on how to teach reading before she went to her position at Broadview.

She understands why some children struggle to learn to read, she said.

“Our language is crazy,” Goebel said.

Typical rules for sounding out words only work for about half the words people see, she said. Learning the others comes from repetition.

“Every child’s brain works differently,” Goebel said. “You have to have a bag of tricks.”

She recalled a girl she worked with from second through fourth grade that didn’t know how to spell her name. After fourth grade, Goebel and another teacher shared that the student had passed her test.

“She was screaming and jumping up and down,” Goebel said with a smile. “She had never passed anything.”

Sometimes, everything Goebel could do wasn’t necessarily enough. She said she’d get attached to students and learn their stories. Some didn’t have good home lives or had other issues outside the classroom. She learned to focus on the support and care she could provide while the students were with her.

“You always have a kid you’re most worried about,” she said. “… You have a tear in your eye when they leave for summer.”

Although she technically retired from the school district, her work there isn’t done. In November, Goebel is running unopposed for the school board.

She’s also gearing up to work as a consultant to help other schools improve their literacy education.

A leisurely retirement was never really in the cards for Goebel.

“I’m passionate about doing things,” she said. “I’m always willing to learn new things.”

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