Family of teachers

Lori Vanover (middle) stands in an old family photo with her mother Diana Born (left), her grandmother Katherine Lovett (right), he daughters Katie Canar (far left) and Hannah Vanover (far right).

Submitted photo

Lori Vanover's grandmother took classes at the University of Arizona until she was 97 years old.

She represented a family of life-long learners and was the second of what would become at least five generations of teachers.

Her grandmother, Katherine, passed away about 10 years ago at the age of 99. Vanover has taught in the Kyrene School District for 27 years.

Her daughter, Katie Canar, who was named after her late great-grandmother, became the fifth generation when she started her first full-time teaching position at Kyrene del Norte Elementary when school started two weeks ago.

Canar, an Ahwatukee Foothills resident and Desert Vista High School graduate, came close to breaking the chain of teachers in the family.

She was drawn to aesthetics for awhile during college and considered pursuing it as a career. But that line of work wasn't calling to her like teaching was.

"Aesthetics was not as fulfilling as I thought it would be," Canar, 26, said. "I always knew teaching was what I wanted to do and it has been my original dream since I was a kid."

It all started with Vanover's grandmother, who taught the majority of her years in Tucson.

"My grandma died when she was 99 and she was so sharp," Vanover said. "She would take Spanish classes and would butcher the language and I think people loved to talk to her."

Spanish is what Vanover teaches now at Kyrene Akimel A-al Middle School in Ahwatukee Foothills. She retired four years ago but returned to teach part time. It helps her keep busy and stay sharp like her mother and grandmother.

"It's corny, but I really do believe that teachers can make a difference in kids' lives," she said. "We are such a global world now and it is such an important skill that kids learn to look at and understand other cultures."

Vanover bounced around Kyrene but landed at Akimel when the school opened in the early '90s. She retired in 2007.

Her mother, Diana Born, now resides in Show Low and worked for more than 10 years and ended her career helping kids with special needs as a reading specialist. Watching her mother inspired her to take the leap into teaching.

"I would see her making a difference for those kids," Vanover said. "They would come in with really low reading levels and came out very confident in their ability. Reading is such an important thing for a person to do."

Born has a story of her own. She spent a year in Iran with her husband and during that time helped calm the culture shock that many American specialists who had been sent over there were feeling.

"It was very exciting, I had never lived anywhere where tanks were on the corner and people aimed guns at you while you went around the traffic circle," she said.

Born stays busy with her duties as president of the White Mountain Women's Club. They host four fundraisers and raise about $30,000 each year for charities, scholarships and more.

To say Canar has a wealth of knowledge at her disposal would be an understatement. She still speaks with her grandmother and remembers listening to stories from the woman she was named after.

"I feel like I have a gift to deal with and teach children and an obligation to use it," Canar said. "For the first time in my life I am exactly where I am supposed to be. This is where I feel like I belong."

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