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March 03, 2003   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
March 03, 2003

Alfa Teacher of the Month for March, Wanda Burns of Mountain Brook High School.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - A love of calculus plus a creative approach to teaching equaled success this month for a Mountain Brook mathematics teacher when she was named Alfa's Teacher of the Month for March. As the March winner, Wanda Burns and her school each will receive $1,000 from the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance Co.

A 23-year veteran of the classroom, Ms. Burns has received numerous local, state and national awards for her teaching ability. She holds bachelor's, master's and education specialist degrees from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and she has made presentations to and written model lesson plans for other teachers. Ms. Burns credits her success to an education philosophy that focuses on teaching students problem-solving skills.

"Problem solving is the heart of mathematics," Ms. Burns said, quoting the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards. "For example, if students can correctly visualize the geometry behind the concept, their comprehension level will be much higher than if they memorized formulas."

To help students reach this level of understanding, the Mountain Brook High School teacher uses a variety of hands-on and visual teaching aids.

"I look for calculus in everyday activities and point these out to my students. For example, every time that you push your accelerator in your car, you are 'doing calculus,'" Ms. Burns said. "I have discovered the need to be a real person in the classroom and, most of all, to show my students that I care about them and not just about calculus. I am available early in the mornings for my students--usually by 6:40 a.m. This can make for long days, but the results are long-lasting relationships that build maturity in students."

During 2003, Alfa and the Alabama Farmers Federation will honor one outstanding teacher from each of Alabama's eight state school board districts as well as two principals and two private school teachers. Criteria and application information 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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