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March 03, 2004   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
March 03, 2004

By injecting humor into lessons, Theresa R. Corley, has transformed chemistry from a dreaded academic requirement into a much-anticipated learning adventure for Mountain Brook High School students. Her unique teaching style earned Corley Alfa's Teacher of the Month Award for March. As the March winner, she will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance Co. and her school will receive a matching award from the Alabama Farmers Federation.

A graduate of Birmingham-Southern College, Corley holds a master's of education from the University of Montevallo and an education specialist degree and doctorate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She began her teaching career at John Carroll High School in 1982 and currently chairs the Science Department at Mountain Brook High School.Corley said her teaching philosophy is based on meeting the individual needs of students by engaging them with interesting, hands-on experiments.

"Chemistry is everywhere in our daily lives, but much of it cannot be seen," she said. "I want science to come alive and be interesting to all students, regardless of their diverse learning styles or ability levels. I strive to provide my students with a thorough foundation in basic chemical principles as well as a strong foundation in critical-thinking and problem-solving skills."

To help students master complicated chemistry concepts, Corley's classes conduct fun experiments that allow the students to observe the interaction of chemicals in wearable, even edible, materials. They concoct slime on Halloween, make tie-dyed T-shirts, prepare ice cream in zip-style storage bags, make wearable chromatograms, enjoy chemical pie at Thanksgiving and celebrate Mother's Day with "weather flowers."

Students enjoy Corley's classes so much, her room has turned into a "hang out." As a result, she often spends her "free time" counseling students about academic and personal dilemmas.

During 2004, Alfa Insurance Co. and the Alabama Farmers Federation will honor one outstanding teacher from each of Alabama's eight state 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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