NORMAN — As part of a group essay assignment, a fourth-grade class at Norman’s Jefferson Elementary described their principal, Dr. Kathy Taber.
“Mrs. Taber is tall, skinny and sophisticated with blonde hair like sunlight on sand,” the essay reads. “Sophisticated means dressing fancy and acting mature ... she is strict like a police officer and very smart.”
Hand-written on a large poster, the essay hangs in Taber’s soon-to-be vacated office, framed by pencil-smudged sheets of notebook paper containing the individual essays that each student submitted.
“One phrase that really gets me is ‘she makes me feel safe, she keeps my sister safe,’” Taber said, surveying the fourth graders’ masterpiece.
Taber’s 35-year career as an educator in the Norman Public School district has been almost exclusively devoted to serving the students and teachers of Jefferson. Now in her 23rd year as Jefferson’s principal, Taber will be the longest-serving principal in the district’s history upon her retirement in June.
“I feel very fortunate, there have been many people at crucial points in my life that had a very positive effect on me, namely my family and my husband,” Taber said.
A third-generation educator, Taber describes the influence of her parents, particularly her father’s constant reading, as instrumental in inspiring her career choice.
“A good teacher is always learning. There’s a certain excitement that comes with a group of people learning — be it children or adults — and I love being a part of that,” Taber said. “Over the years, I’ve considered different positions as they’ve become available and whether I’d enjoy a different opportunity, but I always come back to this. I love this school and I love how the staff truly care about children.”
Taber was initially reluctant to take on the position that ultimately defined her career, saying she didn’t want to leave classroom teaching at the time.