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"Jeff Helms, Publications Director"
334 613-4212

MONTGOMERY A Madison County geography teacher, Robert Franklin Poff, has been named Alfa's Teacher of the Month for January.

Poff, who began his teaching career as a substitute teacher in 1989, has taught at R.L. Stone Middle School in Huntsville since 1990. As this month's winner, he will receive $1,000 from Alfa, as will his 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 graduate of Southern Illinois University, Poff said education should be a lifelong process.

"I believe that teaching and learning are interlocked, and it is the responsibility of the teacher to seek out ways that allow students to learn," he said. "I strive to bring my subject matter alive and to make it interesting as well as enjoyable to learn. I like to use foods, costuming and as many hands-on activities as possible."

Principal Guin Givens said Poff's teaching style has helped many "at risk" students at Stone Middle School change their mind about school and learning.

"After his first year of teaching, these students fell in love with his fun, interactive and participatory ways of teaching. They found opportunities to succeed in ways they had never experienced before. They also found a genuine love and acceptance from a teacher," she said.

Amanda Moore, an eighth grader at Stone, echoed her principal's praise for Poff.

"He actually helped us," she said. "He didn't just give us the answers. He made us search for the answers. That's what makes a good teacherCsomeone who helps you look for the answers and doesn't just tell you, someone who loves what they do and doesn't just do because they have to."

Since 1993, Poff has participated in about 800 hours of professional development training including serving as a teaching consultant for a course on "Geographic Technology," which was held at the University of North Alabama in July. He also was named Teacher of the Quarter in 1994 and was nominated for Disney's American Teacher Award in 1999.

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 month's winner is chosen based on an independent committee's evaluation of the applications received. Additional information on the Alfa Teacher of the Month program is available from local superintendents or from the State Department of Education.

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