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December 01, 2000   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
December 01, 2000

"MONTGOMERY, Ala." A kindergarten teacher at Baker Elementary School in Mobile, Catherine Jefferson, has been named Alfa's Teacher of the Month for December. As this month's winner, she will receive $1,000 from Alfa, as will her school. Alfa Insurance Company and the Alabama Farmers Federation recently announced they would continue sponsoring the program in 2001 as a way to honor outstanding educators.

A 19-year veteran of the classroom, Mrs. Jefferson began her teaching career at Burroughs Elementary after earning her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of South Alabama. She said successful teaching involves more than just academic instruction. Her teaching philosophy includes helping each student develop values and social skills as well.

"I believe it is my responsibility to teach values and patriotism, so my fine youngsters grow up to be moral, responsible Americans," Mrs. Jefferson said. "Like the director of a classic movie, every day I make and execute dozens of decisions as I create a masterpiece-individual children in which I have instilled self-motivation and an eagerness to learn."

Mrs. Jefferson has been awarded numerous educational grants to facilitate her hands-on style of teaching. She also has shared her expertise with other educators.

"A kindergartner's ability to demonstrate and orally explain how to make a gingerbread house, a puppet, or a finger painting shows me that he or she understands how to follow a sequence of directions-a critical life skill," Mrs. Jefferson said. "Big books with enlarged text, a water and sand table for measurement exploration, safety goggles for every child to wear during science experiments and a class set of flashlights so that every child can read in the dark are things that make learning fun and meaningful," she added.

In addition to these teaching tools, Mrs. Jefferson reserves a 30-minute block of time each day for a "Morning Meeting." During the meeting, students share stories of their successes and challenges and practice social skills that Mrs. Jefferson said will be invaluable as they progress through school and life.

During 2001, 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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