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January 08, 2003   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
January 08, 2003

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - William G. Byrd's commitment to ensuring that no child is left behind earned the Madison County math and science teacher Alfa's Teacher of the Month award for January. As this month's winner, Byrd and his school, Riverton Middle School, each will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance Co. and the Alabama Farmers Federation.

Byrd, who served 20 years in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps before joining the faculty at Riverton, said a key to his teaching success has been encouraging the involvement of parents.

"Students benefit from open and active communications (between teachers and parents) because only parents can provide the time and attention to the details required to resolve performance problems," Byrd said.

To keep parents informed of their child's progress, Byrd randomly calls 20-50 percent of parents before each exam to ensure the students are preparing for the quiz. Additionally, Byrd requires students who forget their homework assignments to call their parents on his personal cell phone during the class period.

Parental involvement, however, is just one aspect of Byrd's teaching philosophy. He also structures his lessons to appeal to his students' various learning styles.

"I teach the same lesson using a variety of sensory inputs," Byrd said. "For example, I explain the mathematical concepts to the students by using real-world examples at the beginning of the lesson. I bring building supplies and food to spark student interest in fractions. And as I review the mechanics of working a problem, I use different colors to represent different numbers."

Byrd's principal, Richard Medlen, credits the teacher for a 10-point increase in Riverton's average seventh-grade math scores on the Stanford Achievement Test. Medlen also praised Byrd for doubling the number of students entering advanced eighth-grade algebra and helping learning disabled students function at or above their grade level by the end of the school year.

During 2003, Alfa and the Alabama Farmers Federation will honor one outstanding teacher from each of the state's eight public 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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