Laurence Tarver, a retired Denver Public Schools Educator and Coach, worked in the public schools system for over 30 years. During his time as a teacher and coach, Mr. Tarver had the opportunity to work with young men and women from across the city and state of Colorado, pouring into them not just the importance of receiving a good eduction, but also the life skills and tools that were often needed in order for them to be successful in life.
As an educator, Mr. Tarver was one of very few African American men in the profession in the early years of his career and thus, knew the importance of his role in being a strong, positive role model and example for the students who would cross his path. He was an educator who knew how to make learning come alive in the classroom for his students, making sure that every single one of them knew how much he cared and was invested in their success. As a Coach, Mr. Tarver used athletics as a vehicle for his students to help give them a chance to pursue higher education using sports as the vehicle to get there. The same life skills that he taught his students in the classroom were the same skills that he taught them on the football field, basketball court, baseball field, wrestling mats, and on the track. Mr. Tarver has a long history of teaching and coaching in the Denver Public Schools, and was also responsible for helping to mentor and develop a number of his athletes who went on to coach at the high school and collegiate level. Although he was never fortunate to coach his athletes to a state title, he was responsible for coaching many of them to individual successes in their own individual lives. Countless former athletes of his have given testament to the fact that Mr. Tarver was more than just a teacher and coach, but was the father figure that many of them lacked at the time when they were able to cross paths with him.
In 1995, Mr. Tarver became the Principal of Gove Middle School and remained the last school leader until its closure ten years later. In his role at Principal, Mr. Tarver was able to help foster the same love for learning and those same life lessons into another generation of students. To his surprise, in his role as Principal, Mr. Tarver was now also helping to raise the sons and daughters, and in some cases the grandchildren of so many of the former students he had taught and coached when he first entered the profession during the 1970’s. Mr. Tarver retired from Denver Public Schools in 2005, but continued working in education for the next couple of years until finally retiring altogether.
While his days as a formal educator have passed, Mr. Tarver still continued to coach in Denver Public Schools up to 2020, and helps to mentor and provide guidance to a number of educators and coaches to this present day. Mr. Tarver has touched hundreds, possibly even thousands of lives both near and far who can bear witness to the fact that he is a educational and coaching legend in the city of Denver, across the stare of Colorado and beyond. Tough, stern and often misunderstood in the various roles he has served in, Mr. Tarver helped save a number of youth, particularly young men, from getting caught up in the temptations and troubles that often were awaiting them. Even some of those who were the most rebellious and reluctant to follow his guidance have been able to look back many years later and show their thanks and appreciation for the many words of encouragement that he spoke, the frequent hard conversations and redirections he gave, and the fact that he was one of the individuals who never gave up on them. At age 70, he remains a strong example of the power and presence that Black male educators have in the lives of our children, and continues to pass on his wisdom to those who will listen.