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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Oak View Middle School teacher honored as county’s best

When a student told Lauren Marlowe she felt alone, the eighth-grade English teacher saw herself.

Marlowe, 35, went home that night and found a fictional character the student could relate to — Jane Eyre. She brought back her only torn and tattered copy of the book and gave it to the Oak View Middle School student.

“I’d like to introduce you to one of my closest friends,” she wrote in the book.

For the strides she has taken to make connections with her roughly 130 students spanning six class periods, Marlowe was honored Thursday as Alachua County’s Teacher of the Year.

“It’s a little surreal,” she said. “I’m still kind of astonished that it happened.”

The other two finalists for the award were Susan Surrency from Lawton M. Chiles Elementary School and Amy MacCord from Hawthorne Middle/High School.

Jackie Johnson, a spokesperson for Alachua County Public Schools, said Marlowe was nominated by her fellow teachers at Oak View, and then selected by a 39-person committee made up of past winners.

“If you listen to her students, she is very deserving of that recognition,” Johnson said.

Marlowe said her secret to connecting with her students is books.

“Reading has always been a great escape for me,” she said. “In those awkward teenage years, you can always count on a book to be your friend.”

Three years ago, she started a peer tutoring program to help students who may be struggling. She also serves as the language arts department chair and an adviser to the art club and student government.

Marlowe, a native of Chiefland, Florida, said she always wanted to be a teacher.

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“I’ve never wanted to do anything else,” she said. “I loved school so much I just figured I would stay.”

After graduating from Gainesville High School, Marlowe graduated from UF in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and again in 2005 with a master’s in education.

After graduating, she worked at Kanapaha Middle School for five years before joining Oak View in 2013.

Naturally, she married a teacher. Her husband, Jordan Marlowe, teaches English and history at Newberry High School. They have a 5-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter.

Barbara Brock, 48, an eighth-grade science teacher at Oak View, said Marlowe empowers students.

“She encourages them to be themselves and appreciate who they are,” Brock said. “I think that’s why she got that award.”

@merylkornfield

mkornfield@alligator.org

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