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October 02, 2002   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
October 02, 2002

"MONTGOMERY, Ala. -" Sondra Oswalt has a gift of communicating with students of all ages and ability levels, which can be a real challenge for an algebra teacher. It's also what earned the Oxford High School teacher the title of Alfa's Teacher of the Month for October. As this month's winner, she and her school each will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance Co. and the Alabama Farmers Federation.

Oswalt said students must be challenged to reach their potential through well-planned learning experiences, and good teachers should understand their students' academic needs and be able to bridge gaps in their education.

"Students should be actively engaged in their education, not just spectators with good seats," she said. "Learning involves noise; talking, moving, frustrating grunts and even an occasional light bulb moment. Some need to hear, some see and many need to actually do an activity in order to comprehend it."

A National Board Certified teacher, Oswalt also has been honored as Oxford City Schools' Teacher of the Year. Oxford High School Principal Dr. Jeff Goodwin described Oswalt as efficient and organized, adding that she is a teacher who controls her classes without harsh tactics.

"Mrs. Oswalt is always willing to try something new or different to help her students become accomplished math students," Dr. Goodwin said. "In addition to her numerous projects in the field of mathematics, she also is actively involved in the Alabama Reading Initiative. She teaches students with various illnesses who are not well enough to travel to school. She also relishes the challenge of working with students who speak English as a second language. She considers it her personal mission to ensure that every student she is associated with has the opportunity to excel to their optimum potential."

This is Alfa's fifth year as sponsor of the Teacher of the Month program. During the 2002 school year, Alfa will honor one teacher from each of Alabama's eight state school board districts as well as two private school teachers and two principals. Application information is 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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