Mr. Garner has been a teacher for 21 years. Pictured with guest speaker Col. Abner Aust, 97-year-old WWII flying ace.

Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I’d have to say my love of learning and sharing with others what it means to be a Citizen of this great country of ours. I come from a long line of family members who have served this country in the military in every branch, I, myself, a Marine Veteran of the Persian Gulf War. Service is an integral part of teaching; It became a natural fit for me. Most of my mentors in life were either educators, coaches and/or had ties to the military in some facet. All were teachers to me. I hope to encompass the same for my students as the best Teacher I can be for them.

What is a goal of yours as a teacher?
To help students become productive members of society; become successful model Citizens of this great country. I capitalize Citizen, because I believe many have forgotten what Citizenship truly means; especially the aspect of service. I want to make leaders. I don’t think you can ever truly lead others without first truly serving others. Service and Leadership go hand and hand!

How do you show your school spirit?
I have always been a passionate supporter of getting students involved in their school through sports and other extracurricular activities. Many years ago, the Spirit Men of the school were not students. Myself and one of my fellow teachers, Tom Cummings, used to be the original ‘Spirit Men.’ There apparently were ongoing informal bets going on about, “Who was going to get injured first?”

Is there a quote or saying that you live by?
“For all your days prepare, and meet them ever alike: When you are the anvil, bear. When you are the hammer, strike.” (Given to me by one of my favorite mentors to decipher when I was young.)

What changes would you like to see in schools today?
More (behavioral) accountability; less emphasis on standardized tests; more practical application assessment; and more importantly, truly preparing students for the real world… More vocational education would be a great start. Raise the bar of expectations as well; stop lowering it. The bar is supposed to be a high jump, not a limbo bar. -Semper Fidelis!

Valrico Teacher of the Month is sponsored by Brenda Wade at Signature Realty

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