Santa Fe High School teacher Barbara Gerber strode like a champion toward the podium when Ruthanne Greeley called out her name. Then Gerber began to jog across the vast ballroom, and even run.

Greeley, executive director of Partners in Education, had just announced Gerber as the latest recipient of a Teachers Who Inspire honor during Santa Fe High’s robing ceremony on Monday night at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center.

“I’m certainly surprised to discover that I’m speechless,” the usually loquacious Gerber told the crowd. “That’s probably the first time.”

Gerber laughed and cried during the brief recognition ceremony. Through it all, members of the Santa Fe High senior class repeatedly chanted “Gerber, Gerber, Gerber!”

The 52-year-old teacher earned her bachelor’s degree in English at San Francisco State University in 1987, and then spent about 15 years as a journalist and freelance writer before turning to teaching in 2003 — first at the Santa Fe Community College and then at De Vargas Middle School and other public schools in the city.

In 2007, she went to work for Santa Fe High School teaching English and journalism, and running the student newspaper, The Demon Tattler.

Last year, Terra Nova Books of Santa Fe published Gerber’s first novel, Love and Death in a Perfect World.

Since 1992, Partners in Education, a nonprofit that supports Santa Fe Public Schools, has presented the Teachers Who Inspire award to more than 140 teachers. Each recipient also gets a check for $1,200 and a glass apple. An anonymous donor funds the program. Teachers are nominated by their peers.

Gerber’s nomination letter praised her work in prepping her students for Advanced Placement courses, assisting her colleagues and participating in summer professional-development institutes for high school English teachers.

Gerber is the fourth teacher to receive the award this year. Three more Santa Fe educators will be honored by the end of the week. Partners in Education works with individual schools to surprise the honorees, usually during a public ceremony or event.

Afterward, when asked what is the best thing about teaching, Gerber said: “The relationships. You get to be involved in so many people’s lives in so many ways. Especially for an extrovert like me, that feeds your soul.”

Then she thought about how she had responded to being named a Teacher Who Inspires.

“I should have said more,” she said.

Gerber’s daughter Maggie will be part of the Santa Fe High School graduating class on Wednesday, May 25.

Contact Robert Nott at 505-986-3021 or rnott@sfnewmexican.com.

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