Truckee Hometown Sears and Sierra Sun select Teacher of the Year finalist
March 20, 2012
TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Lisa Furr has been selected as a finalist for the Truckee Hometown Sears-Sierra Sun Teacher of the Year. Furr, a special education teacher, was recognized for her work with the Tahoe Truckee transition class. Community members praised Furrand#8217;s ability to inspire and motivate students.
and#8220;Like a skillful surgeon, Lisa dissects the word disability, cutting and discarding the and#8216;dis,and#8217; leaving only the ability to nourish,and#8221; wrote one community member. and#8220;Lisa Furr is not only the Teacher of the Year; she should be nominated for outstanding person of the year.and#8221;
Teachers can have a lasting impact on the students in their classrooms as well as the community as a whole. The selection committee acknowledged Furrand#8217;s strengths as a teacher and community partner. Furrand#8217;s ability to collaborate with community members has given her students amazing volunteer opportunities and has helped them to develop life skills. On March 16, Charles Riley, owner of the Truckee Hometown Sears Store, presented Furr with a Finalist Certificate and $100 Shopping Spree award at his store.
Lisa Furr is not the easiest teacher to find, even on a school day. As teacher of the Tahoe Truckee transition class, the Town of Truckee and surrounding community is, in fact, her classroom. Furrand#8217;s work taking students into the community to develop life skills has led to her being recognized as a finalist for the Truckee Hometown Sears-Sierra Sun Teacher of the Year.
Originally considering a career in occupational therapy, Furr became interested in special education when volunteering in a classroom her sophomore year of college. After completing course work at Fresno State and San Francisco State Colleges, Furr began her teaching career working with students with autism in Los Altos, Calif. She continued her work in special education at the Sonoma County Office of Education in Santa Rosa. After 12 years, Furr moved to Truckee with her family to enjoy the mountain lifestyle.
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Furr was first hired at Truckee High School in 1996, to work as a special education teacher for students ages 14-18. She developed a peer program to help students become a part of the high school community. Furr then developed the transition program she currently teaches.
The Tahoe Truckee transition class serves students ages 18-22. As a part of the special education program, the transition class acts as a bridge from school to adult life. Students receive vocational training, learn independent living skills and continue academic course work.
and#8220;Students are in the transition program until their 22nd birthday,and#8221; said Corrine Harvey, director of special education for the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. and#8220;They transition from [Furrand#8217;s] program to life; she plays a critical role in helping them adjust.and#8221;
Furr takes her students out into the community. Students learn how to use public transit and how to volunteer and work in the community. They take fitness classes, cooking classes, and learn other life skills. Furr wants her students to discover all the ways they can be productive and contribute to society. She recognizes community members play a vital role in the programand#8217;s success.
and#8220;The community is exceptional and has embraced the program and students,and#8221; said Furr. She insists the program is successful because of community members and businesses including: Sierra Senior Services, Julia Mancuso Gym, Hampton Inn and Suites, Tahoe Forest Hospital, the Humane Society, Truckee Bagel, STEP Program, Squaw Valley High Camp, Dr. Ravinale, and many others. She also is very thankful for the public transit drivers from Truckee Dial-A-Ride and Tahoe Area Regional Transit. It is the hope of both Lisa Furr and Corrine Harvey the community can continue to support students by creating opportunities for them during and after they leave the program.
and#8220;What I can do is give [students] tools to empower them for when they leave,and#8221; said Furr. It is important to Furr students feel strong about themselves and feel they can do anything they want. Many of Furrand#8217;s students have received services and benefited from help and she enjoys teaching them to find ways they can help others. Furr was delighted this year when one of her students was nominated as a SnowFest! Queen candidate by the organization where she was volunteering. Opportunities like this one are why she works to get students out into the community.
Furr reminds students it is and#8220;theirand#8221; life and they can choose what they want to do with it. One studentand#8217;s nomination letter shared that learning how to use public transportation had given her control of her life.
and#8220;I take [public transportation] to all my appointments and things,and#8221; wrote one student. and#8220;It makes me feel so independent.and#8221; Furrand#8217;s work truly impacts her students and the community as a whole. She inspires students and peers by focusing on abilities, not disabilities.
and#8220;I personally feel like Lisaand#8217;s knowledge and experience has taught me that anyone can be out in the community and have a productive life, no matter the disability,and#8221; wrote one peer. and#8220;Working with Lisa has changed my life for the better.and#8221;
Furrand#8217;s ability to motivate and inspire others makes her stand out as a teacher and member of the community.