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February 16, 2001   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
February 16, 2001

"MONTGOMERY, Ala. - " A Tuscaloosa County educator, Kristin Mattson Frangoulis, has been named Alfa's Teacher of the Month for February.

Mrs. Frangoulis began her career 33 years ago as an elementary school teacher in Falls Church, Va. She currently teaches gifted and talented students at the Sprayberry Regional Education Center. As this month's winner, she will receive $1,000 from Alfa, as will her school. Alfa Insurance Co. and the Alabama Farmers Federation began sponsoring the program in 1998 as a way to recognize excellence in education.

A graduate of Maryville College in Maryville, Tenn., Mrs. Frangoulis earned her master's and education specialist degrees from the University of Alabama. Mrs. Frangoulis said she developed her teaching philosophy early in her career, when she was entrusted with educating a group of troubled, impoverished sixth-graders.

"There was the unlovely Brenda, whose mother told me, 'I have hated Brenda since the day that she was born.' And there was Bobby, who looked like an angel, but was a pyromaniac," Mrs. Frangoulis recalled. "I could tell all 30 children's story, but time does not permit. Needless to say, they captured my heart, and I found my true vocation. I had become both a teacher and a preacher--a missionary for children."

Mrs. Frangoulis has seven steps to successful teaching. The process begins with learning to love each child. It also includes rules such as, "Make the class student centered, not teacher centered," and "Have high expectations, as students will rise to the level of expectation."

The co-author of Tuscaloosa County's gifted education plan, Mrs. Frangoulis applies this philosophy by involving her students in the learning process. She routinely assigns her students interdisciplinary projects, which she calls "quests of discovery."

During the year, Alfa will honor one outstanding teacher from each of Alabama's eight state school board districts as well as two principals and two private school teachers. Each winner is selected by an independent panel of judges based on the applications received.

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