TEACHER SPOTLIGHT: Alice Gorbet, right, Central Intermediate’s 2013-14 Teacher of the Year, stands with her teaching partner of 10 years Jimme Beth Hefner. “Alice is always there and has my back no matter what the situation,” says Hefner. “She is trustworthy, reliable, unique and very special.”
CHRISTOPHER DAVIS for GTR Newspapers
“If you really love something, you need to do it the best you can, every day,” says Alice Gorbet, Teacher of the Year at Bixby’s Central Intermediate. “That way you can be proud of who you are and what you’ve done.”
Originally, one of Gorbet’s biggest challenges in the classroom was overcoming her shyness. “At first, it was difficult – I was very reserved and shy,” the fifth grade reading and social studies teacher says of her early years. “I realized if I just sat and talked with the kids and tried to get to know them, I could gain their trust. I’ve been doing it ever since.”
The approach has worked well for Gorbet. Every morning and afternoon, she is in the halls between periods, greeting students. “Not just my kids,” she says, “all of them.” She believes that making students comfortable and interacting with them on a personal level fosters a successful learning environment.
Gorbet saw her share of schools as a child. Her father was in the military, so the family moved a lot. When she was in fifth grade, her family settled in Bixby. After graduating from Bixby High School, she attended Oklahoma State University to gain a degree in elementary education. Later, she completed her master’s degree in reading at NSU.
She began teaching in her hometown in 1991 and has taught just about every grade level since then. But Gorbet insists fifth grade is her favorite age group to teach. “It’s fun to see them in the beginning and the progression to sixth grade,” she says of her students’ transformational year.
Gorbet helped her sister raise her niece and nephew and thinks of them as her own children. “They’re very close to me,” she says, as are her two dogs, Chester, a dachshund, and Mocco, a brown lab. Gorbet has also traveled extensively, thanks to a brother who moves a lot. “I’ve visited almost every state,” she says. When she is not teaching or planning a trip, Gorbet enjoys a good mystery or historical literature, especially within view of a lake for its quiet, peaceful atmosphere.
This is Gorbet’s first time being awarded Teacher of the Year. “It was a real shocker,” she says. “I feel like everyone deserves to be recognized.”
She quickly shifts focus to her teaching partner of 10 years, Jimme Beth Hefner, who teaches math and science. “I’ve been working with her since she started teaching, and she’s terrific. We have been a team forever,” says Gorbet.
Hefner’s respect and fondness for Gorbet is mutual. “Alice is always there and has my back no matter what the situation,” Hefner says. “She is trustworthy, reliable, unique and very special.”
In a school where every teacher is worthy of recognition, it is Gorbet’s moment in the sun. Bixby Central Intermediate is thankful for Gorbet’s hard work and passion for education.