Lori Grebner has been teaching for about 15 years. Having taught at Nobel Learning Communities’ Chesterbrook Academy Elementary School in Chantilly since 1996, she is now the organization’s first teacher of the year at the elementary school level.
"They made a really big deal about it because it was the first one," Grebner said.
SHE WON the Teacher of the Year award at Chesterbrook in April last year. She found out she had won on the national level in late September and went on to the Nobel Learning’s national principals’ conference in Las Vegas in October to accept the award.
She described the process of participating in the award competition as rigorous. She had to ask for parent recommendations and write a paper.
"The whole process was so intimidating," she said. "It’s a very rigorous process."
Grebner recalled collecting recommendations from at least 30 parents, who she said were excited and congratulated her when she won. She was also not expecting to receive acclaim from parents of former students.
"I was surprised at how many people even knew about it," she said. "They were just over the top. I was just shocked at how much they really cared about it."
When she won the award after the long process to participate, Grebner felt that her work had paid off.
"I felt relieved and very excited," she said. "I was very proud to be there at that time."
Grebner, who was selected from teachers in 30 schools in 11 states nationally, received the award in October.
She was nominated by the Chesterbrook community’s parents, teachers, staff members and the school’s principal, Fran Robison.
She said Grebner was nominated because, as a teacher, she represents Nobel and Chesterbrook well as a teacher.
"She is the epitome of a Chesterbrook teacher and a Nobel teacher," Robison said. "She is fun. She is energetic. She’s just an amazing teacher."
Grebner, who comes from an entire family of teachers, graduated from Mansfield University in Mansfield, Penn. in 1992.
"That’s just what I followed and I graduated from college in ’92 and I’ve been doing it ever since," she said.
Grebner thanked Chesterbrook for being a good learning environment for children and for letting her teach there.
"THEY HAVE a very good philosophy of keeping the classes small and the environment small," she said. "I think that’s why I’ve been able to achieve this award. I was given the optimal environment in which to teach."
She also thanked the teachers she works with.
"Because of their dedication and their amazing teaching abilities, they’re really what makes me strive to do my best every day," she said. "They’re the ones that push me to do my best every day. They are good at what they do and they care."
To Grebner, the award reinforces what she is doing at Chesterbrook.
"I feel like I know I’m doing the right thing," she said. "[When I won the award] I felt very justified and validated that I’m making a positive difference in children’s lives and the way they learn."