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July 01, 2002   Email to Friend 

Stacey Rochette
July 01, 2002

"MONTGOMERY, Ala." Dr. Frank Buck's devotion to a quality learning environment for students and faculty earned this Talladega principal recognition as part of Alfa's Teacher of the Month Program. As this month's winner, he and his school, Graham Elementary, will each receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance Co. and the Alabama Farmers Federation.

After graduating with two degrees from Jacksonville State University, Buck began his teaching career in 1982 as band director at Goodwyn Junior High School in Montgomery. He then spent eight years as band director and teacher at Pizitz Middle School in Vestavia. Dr. Buck moved on to an assistant principal job for four years at Columbiana Middle School before becoming principal at Graham Elementary in 1997. He earned his masters from the University of Alabama and his educational specialist degree from the University of Montevallo as well as a doctorate in education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Dr. Buck said his mission in education is to maximize the quality of life for each student and for the society in which he or she will live. His goal is to prepare his students to be well-rounded young adults.

"While we cannot be sure what vocations will be in demand decades down the road, we can ensure that our students will thrive in the world, no matter what form it takes," he said.

Dr. Buck said he is working to bring quality programs to the school. Graham Elementary was one of six schools in Alabama chosen for the Arts Pilot Grant. This grant provided the school with $30,000 to begin an integrated arts program. Dr. Buck said the confidence and creativity provided in this program stays with the students throughout the school day, and hopefully later in life. Graham Elementary also received a grant called "Time on our Side" to provide student planners. The planners will allow for students to budget their time more effectively. His school also is involved in the Alabama Reading Initiative, which Dr. Buck said is tailored according to each student's ability.

To motivate students, Dr. Buck began a reward system in which students are recognized over the school intercom for special activities.

Another area Dr. Buck has emphasized is parent involvement. He writes a newsletter and distributes it to parents. The newsletters contain helpful advice, and questionnaires so parents can have input.

"I have always felt that when I spoke to Dr. Buck about an idea or concern, that he truly listened to me, appreciated my input, and would follow-up on the conversation," said Patti Kulovitz, parent of a fourth- grader at Graham.

This is Alfa's fifth year as sponsor of the Teacher of the Month program. During 2002, Alfa will honor one teacher from each of Alabama's eight school board districts as well as two private school teachers and two principals. Program criteria and application information for the program are available by clicking on "Alfa Teacher of the Month" in the Ag links section of the Alfa Farmers website, www.alfafarmer.org.

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