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May 02, 2003   Email to Friend 

Alfa announces May Teacher of the Month
Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
May 02, 2003

HOOEVER, Ala. -- A Hoover kindergarten teacher, Mistie Whitson McAdams, has added the Alfa Teacher of the Month award to a list of honors that includes a Presidential Award of Excellence in Science and Math Teaching and a national award for first-year teachers.

As this month's winner, Ms. McAdams will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance Co., and her school, Trace Crossing School, will receive a matching award from the Alabama Farmers Federation.

Ms. McAdams began her teaching career shortly after earning a degree in elementary education from the University of Alabama Birmingham in 1988. A year later, she was named a national Sallie Mae First-Year Teacher. The National board certified teacher has since earned a master's degree, AA certification and is working on her doctorate. McAdams attributed her success to a four-pronged teaching philosophy.

"First, young children learn by doing," McAdams said. "Young children's brains and hands must be actively engaged to secure knowledge. "Second, every child can and will learn given the appropriate support," she continued. "Third, language is a critical part of learning. (And) last, I believe that parents are a very valuable resource. Parents must have confidence in the instructional atmosphere, feel involved with the classroom and feel that the school and teacher care about the child and the family."

Ms. McAdams has shared her experience with other teachers through mentoring programs and workshops. She designed and taught a summer program for incoming teachers called "Under the Sea" and wrote a "Nature Trail Guide" for teachers. She also has co-chaired the School Improve Team, participated in writing the Hoover City Schools Math Curriculum Guide, and has been awarded several grants.

Her hands-on teaching style incorporates all academic subjects, encourages creativity and discussion among students and allows each pupil to make the most of his or her talents. "While studying a unit on the pond, we constructed a replica of a working ecosystem in our classroom," Ms. McAdams explained. "All the children felt ownership and went way beyond mastering the minimal state required material. While one child observed and wrote a short classroom-published book, another created an artistic representation to hang in our art gallery. A third drew a succession of pictures that showed the different stages of development from egg froth to frog."

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. Application information is available by clicking on "Alfa Teacher of the Month" in the Ag Links section of the Alfa Farmers website.

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