2009 Office of Institutional Education Programs
Adult Teacher of the Year

Elizabeth A. Loughner
Transition Life Skills Teacher , St. Marys Correctional Center

Several factors influenced my decision to become a teacher.  I was born and spent most of my childhood in southern West Virginia where education is not generally held in high regard.  Most of my family worked in the coal mines and hand no aspirations for any other type of work.  I saw how hard life was for the women that lived in constant fear of what would happen if the family’s breadwinner was injured or killed in the coal mine, and this made me determined to seek a better life for myself.

Another major influence in my decision to become a teacher was my father.  He refused to let me give up during times when I got discouraged about where my next semester’s tuition was coming from, always assuring me that somehow things would work out.

My grandmother gave me encouragement to finish college by telling me that she hoped to live to see the day when I became the fist of her children or grandchildren to get a college degree.  I guess with so many people pulling for me, I felt I couldn’t let them down.

Because so many people believed in me and gave me encouragement and support, I strongly feel a need to give back to others by being here to help students find their potential.  I know what it means to have someone believe that you CAN be successful.  Most students in correctional education have suffered many failures throughout their years in public education, and I try to instill a sense of hope and the belief that success is possible for each of them.

I feel that I have accomplished this with many students, but especially one student with whom I have worked with for about two years when he said to me just before leaving on parole, “Mrs. Loughner, I know now that I’m not stupid.  I really can learn.  You’ve been kinda’ hard on me, but I thank you for it.”  Just hearing remarks like this make me glad that I became a teacher and that I have a unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students by working in a correctional education environment.

Liz, OIEP is so very proud of you!  Congratulations!