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October 02, 2000   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
October 02, 2000

"MONTGOMERY, Ala." A Shelby County teacher, Dr. Rebecca A. Seales, has been named Alfa's Teacher of the Month for October. As this month's winner, she will receive $1,000 from Alfa, as will her school. Alfa Insurance Company and the Alabama Farmers Federation began sponsoring the awards program two years ago as a way to recognize excellence in education.

A 13-year veteran of the classroom, Dr. Seales earned her doctorate as well as her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She currently teaches at the Shelby County Regional Juvenile Detention Facility where a simple teaching philosophy helps her reach children much of society has forgotten.

"I believe there are no bad children," Dr. Seales said. "There are children who have made poor choices. There are children that have experienced more pain than most of their educators can ever imagine. There are children who come to us hungry, tired and cold. It is the challenge of a true educator to meet these children where they are and help them see there is a purpose to and a way to set and reach goals."

Dr. Seales said after she establishes trust with her students she begins "dragon-slaying lessons" to help them overcome past experiences. She often shares her strategies for success with other educators through presentations like one entitled, "Teaching Those at Greatest Risk in the Most Restrictive of Environments." Dr. Seales is a candidate to receive National Board certification this year, and she has been selected to participate in education projects locally and in the Peoples Republic of China.

David B. Hall, senior probation officer with the Juvenile Court of Shelby County, said Dr. Seales' work has helped many troubled youth leave the detention facility more optimistic about school and life in general.

"Much of that rejuvenated spirit can be attributed to the unyielding efforts expended by Dr. Seales, as she always seems to find that niche, however small, within a child that she can expose, nourish and cause to flourish.

During 2000, the Alfa Teacher of the Month program will honor one outstanding public school teacher from each of the state's eight public school board districts; two private school teachers; and two principals. Each winner is chosen based on an independent committee's evaluation of the applications received.

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