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April 12, 2001   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
April 12, 2001

An Autauga County first-grade teacher, Faye Faulk Smith, has joined the ranks of educators from throughout the state who have been honored by Alfa's Teacher of the Month Program. As the April winner, Ms. Smith and her school each will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Federation. Alfa began sponsoring the program in 1998 as a way to recognize outstanding teachers.

As a 23-year veteran of the classroom, Ms. Smith began her career as a third-grade teacher in Autauga County after graduating from Georgia State University. She later earned her master's degree from Troy State University and taught in Madison County for 12 years before returning to Prattville last year. Ms. Smith attributes much of her teaching success on her ability to involve parents in the learning process.

"I believe that teachers must encourage and seek parental involvement," she said. "Students whose parents are involved take price in their work and try harder to achieve. I want parents to feel that they are always welcome in my classroom."

To help keep parents engaged in their children's education, Ms. Smith publishes a weekly newsletter, and she sends home folders each day to update parents about their child's behavior and progress. In addition, she invites parents to visit their children at school and volunteer for classroom reading activities.

A presenter for the Alabama Reading Initiative, Ms. Smith encourages reading in her class by allowing each child to keep five books from her 3,000-volumn library to read when they finish their work. Students also may check books out of the library to take home. During the school year, Ms. Smith helps her students write and illustrate their own books, and she personally binds each project by hand.

Ms. Smith said she is always looking for new programs and ideas that will enhance her children's learning. "I believe to be an effective teacher, I must also be a learner," she said. "I must keep up with the current educational research by belonging to professional organizations, reading professional literature, attending professional development sessions and collaborating with other teachers."

Ms. Smith said one of the most beneficial experiences of her career was becoming certified last year by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.

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. Program criteria and applications are available by clicking on "Alfa Teacher of the Month" in the "Ag Links" section of the Alfa Farmers website, www.alfafarmers.org.

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