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Fourth-grade teacher receives special state recognition

SARANAC - Saranac Elementary School has a fourth-grade teacher that's been touching lives for more than 20 years. And, now, she's receiving special recognition for her efforts.

The New York State Education Department has named Lisa Napper the recipient of the 2009 New York State Better Beginnings Award. The award is given annually to only one teacher in the state who exemplifies teaching excellence.

Upon learning she will receive the award, Napper - who has been with the school district since 1988 - said she was both "surprised" and "honored."

"I feel very honored accepting this as an individual, but I'd feel more comfortable accepting it if it were an award for the Saranac Central School District," said Napper. "This district is completely team-oriented. So, it would be very easy for any one of my colleagues to be able to accept this award as well."

However, school principal Marguerite M. Tamer said the number of nominations which poured in for Napper was overwhelming.

"When we heard about the award and the type of person they were looking for, she immediately came to everybody's mind," said Tamer, who noted nominations came from colleagues, parents, former students and members of the community.

"Her integrity, honesty and strong morals are beyond reproach," a nomination from one administrator read. "Additionally, her empathy for her students is extraordinary. Mrs. Napper consistently extends her work day in an attempt to meet her students' needs."

Another nomination also had glowing remarks for her, from the perspective of both a student and fellow educator. The nominator recalled losing a brother to cancer, at which time Napper took her "under her wing," helping her continue her relationships with friends, teachers, counselors and family during the difficult time.

"Mrs. Napper has a way of making her students feel important and special," the letter read. "She does a great job at recognizing individual needs and does what is appropriate to help each and every student ... Lisa helped shape who I was as a development educator."

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