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Difficult job is full of rewards

Longtime educator participates in a variety of causes, but teaching is her No. 1 priority.

September 14, 2010|By James Famera

There's never a slow day for La Crescenta resident Pat Rabe. A self-described "project person," Rabe devotes herself to charitable organizations and church-sponsored events, all while serving as a tireless presence in the lives of her students at Crescenta Valley High School.

"I can usually handle a project or two at a time, and teach," Rabe said. "It goes with my personality."

Rabe's road to teaching was not all that unusual. Coming from a family of educators — Rabe's grandmother and mother also taught for a living — teaching seemed like a natural career path. She taught for 17 years at Glendale High School, a job that she found both challenging and rewarding.

"Teaching is a really great job because it changes every day," Rabe said. "There's a lot of independence."

Rabe became involved with the National Honor Society at Glendale High School and worked with its members to raise money for the Pat Navolanic Memorial Award. Navolanic was a 1963 graduate of Glendale High who died at the age of 20. His Memorial Award had been given out since 1966.

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Through fundraisers, Rabe and her students increased the value of the award from $100 to $1,000 and set up a yearly endowment to maintain it.

"We had this outpouring of money and support from the community," Rabe said. "It was such a wonderful experience."

That "wonderful experience" would influence Rabe years later. After joining the faculty of Crescenta Valley High School 11 years ago, she started the Falcon Award, which recognizes six or seven Crescenta Valley High School students for their academic achievements and outstanding service to their community.

Principal Michele Doll sees Rabe's involvement in the award as just another shining example of her undying dedication to the school and its students.

"Pat brings a real commitment to providing students with a rigorous mathematics experience," Doll said. "She wants to inspire students to have high goals and expectations for their own life."

Rabe also helps local causes and individuals in her community, and next week will attend the first of several charitable dinner groups. It's an idea she's had for quite a while, where couples pay to have dinner at a friend's house and donate the money to a local cause of the host's choosing.

"My dream is that this idea will catch on with other people," Rabe said. "I'm really excited about it."

In addition to the demands of her job and charity work, Rabe also dabbles in fused glass artwork, a hobby that she describes as unusual but fun.

Rabe may consider herself a "project person" but she is a teacher first and foremost, a profession she believes she was called upon to do.

"There are times where if I have to pick between some outside project and teaching really well, I'm always going to choose teaching really well," Rabe said. "It's a hard job, but it's a great job."

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