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June 11, 2003   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
June 11, 2003

Dot Riley, principal of Trace Crossings School in Hoover.
MONTGOMERY, Ala.-- Last month, Dot Riley, principal of Trace Crossings School in Hoover, was on hand when one of her teachers was named Alfa's May Teacher of the Month. To her surprise, that same evening Riley was named Alfa's Principal of the Month for June.

As this month's winner, Riley will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance Co., and her school will receive $1,000 from the Alabama Farmers Federation. Alfa began sponsoring the program in 1998 as a way to recognize excellence in education.

A 29-year veteran of education, Riley began her teaching career at Brown Elementary School in Opelika shortly after graduating from Auburn University. She later earned a master's in elementary education from Auburn University and her education specialist degree and doctorate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). She has served as principal at Trace Crossings School since 1993.

Riley said her philosophy of education was shaped by her years in the classroom.

"I have come to believe that there are three basic parts to the ultimate goal for today's schools," she said. "These are to equip each student with the capability to identify and solve problems, to foster positive character development, and to help youngsters to learn to work cooperatively with others toward common objectives."

Because the facts students need to know are constantly changing, Riley encourages teachers to focus on developing strong reading, writing, technology and mathematics skills. If the teachers can "hook kids on learning," she said the students should be able to solve problems as they arise.

Riley, who is an adjunct instructor at UAB and the University of Montevallo, encourages her teachers to pursue professional development opportunities. She also sets the tone for each day by addressing the entire school over the intercom.

"I lead the pledge to the flag, conduct the moment of silence and then talk for a brief time about the reason we come to school, which is to work and learn," Riley said.

During 2003, Alfa Farmers will honor one 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, www.alfafarmers.org.

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