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July 16, 2004   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
July 16, 2004

MONTGOMERY, Ala. Archaeology is digging below the surface, uncovering secrets and finding out the reason things happen. To Head Elementary School Principal Susan Mallett, her job is just another--albeit unusual--form of archaeology.

The Montgomery principal believes educators must act as archaeologists as well as teachers. Part of their jobs, she says, is to find out what background each child is coming from and what hidden "treasures" that student possesses.

As a result of this individual care for every child and the way her school has shined under her leadership, Mallet was named Alfa's Teacher of the Month for July. As a reward for her excellence, she will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance Co. and her school will receive a matching gift from the Alabama Farmers Federation.

Mallett earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM), and also received her certification in administration and supervision from AUM. She has worked in education for nearly 30 years, and has spent 28 of those years at Head Elementary School, working both as a teacher and in administration.

Throughout her career, Mallett has been active with Project SOAR (Science Opportunities using Aerospace Resources), serving as the director since 1990. She has been awarded numerous national awards for her involvement in aerospace education, and also has won several outstanding teacher and principal awards.

To Mallett, excellence begins on a small scale, as teachers give personal attention to each student. Time and personal support are key, because when students realize they are on the top of their teacher's priority list, they will shine.

"With the gentle tenacity that true educators possess, many treasures can be discovered within each student," Mallett said. "These discoveries can then be the 'keys' the educator uses to unlock the doors to the students' minds, hearts and spirits, which are, ultimately, the doors to education."

Mallett has implemented numerous programs at her school, including a daily morning "Walk Across America," where 250-300 people spend 45 minutes walking laps at the track. This has many benefits, including giving students a chance to burn off excess energy and letting parents and grandparents get to know their child's friends and teachers.

"The students at the school, and their parents, know that she is there for the good of the students," said Martha Hoyle, a physical education teacher at Head Elementary. "She will do anything to ensure that the students are given a solid curricular and character education foundation which is extended with exciting enrichment programs."

During 2004, Alfa Insurance 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 online 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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