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March 01, 2001   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
March 01, 2001

Leigh Thomas teaches kindergarten at Warrior Elementary School.
"MONTGOMERY, Ala." A Jefferson County elementary school teacher, Leigh Thomas, has been named Alfa's Teacher of the Month for March. As this month's winner, Ms. Thomas will receive $1,000 from Alfa, as will her school. Alfa Insurance Co. and the Alabama Farmers Federation began sponsoring the awards program in 1998 as a way to recognize excellence in education.

A graduate of the University of Alabama in Birmingham, Ms. Thomas is scheduled to complete her master's studies at Samford University this spring. She currently teaches kindergarten at Warrior Elementary School, where she is respected for being both a devoted teacher and a faculty leader.

"I believe all children, despite their economic situation, should be provided the educational opportunities needed to ensure success," said Ms. Thomas. "I want all students to develop a life-long love of learning that will open to them a world of endless possibilities."

Ms. Thomas believes reading is the key to overall academic achievement. And at Warrior, she has put that philosophy into practice by taking a leadership role in the implementation of several new programs. In November, she and her co-workers began offering a class for parents entitled, "How to Help the Beginning Reader." They also provide after-school tutoring for students and parents who want additional help. In addition, Ms. Thomas submitted an application for Warrior to become an Alabama Reading Initiative Demonstration site for the 2001-2002 school year.

Ms. Thomas' innovative thinking led to the adoption of a school-wide project called the Technology Inservice Program, which gives teachers the opportunity to attend workshops each month on everything from educational software to the Internet. Ms. Thomas also has served as an instructor for workshops. As for her own professional development, Ms. Thomas currently is in the process of obtaining National Board Certification, and she has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants including the 1999 Superintendent's Award of Excellence and the 1998 Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year award.

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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