ALFA HONORS TALLADEGA COUNTY FIRST-GRADE TEACHER
MONTGOMERY, Ala. A Talladega County teacher, Pattie Thomas, was named Alfa's Teacher of the Month for October. As this month's winner, Mrs. Thomas will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance Co., and her school will receive a matching award from the Alabama Farmers Federation.
A 19-year veteran of the classroom, Mrs. Thomas began her career at Salter Elementary School in Talladega after earning her bachelor's degree from Jacksonville State University (JSU). In 1986, she received her master's degree from JSU and transferred to Raymond L. Young Elementary School where she taught third-grade for 10 years. Today, she is a National Board Certified Teacher and teaches first-grade at Young Elementary School.
Mrs. Thomas said one of the keys to education is parental involvement. As a teacher, she puts in extra hours after class to ensure parents are aware of their children's achievements and struggles.
"I seek out those hard-to-reach parents by notes, email, phone or personal conferences," Mrs. Thomas said. "They know I believe in the abilities of their child and need their assistance. I believe in constant back and forth communication. Each day, I walk my students out and seek those parents who need to hug their child for a job well done or spend more time listening to them read."
Mrs. Thomas said she believes "you must reach a child's heart to teach their mind." To that end, she has developed an education philosophy that focuses on raising her students' self esteem while teaching them life skills. She greets her students at the door each morning, conducts one-on-one reading conferences, leads a class-sharing activity called "Circle Time" and sends each child on his or her way at the end of the school day with their choice of a hug, handshake, smile or high-five. Mrs. Thomas also keeps parents informed through weekly newsletters.
Alfa began sponsoring the Teacher of the Month Program in 1998 as a way to recognize excellence in education. During 2003, the program 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, www.alfafarmers.org.