MADISON COUNTY TEACHER SHARES LOVE OF SCIENCE WITH STUDENTS
MONTGOMERY, Ala. A Madison County teacher's ability to share her love of science with her students earned Brenda Sullivan Alfa's Teacher of the Month award for January. As this month's winner, Ms. Sullivan will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance and her school, Sparkman High School, will receive a matching award from the Alabama Farmers Federation.
An 18-year veteran of the classroom, Ms. Sullivan began her teaching career at Bob Jones School after earning her teaching certificate from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She holds a bachelor's degree in medical technology and a master's of education with an emphasis in chemistry, both from the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB). Ms. Sullivan, however, says she has never stopped learning and continues to seek out courses that will help her improve her teaching skills.
"A teacher must be willing to continually read new material, attend workshops, take college classes and work closely with other teachers from the same and similar disciplines," she said. "A good teacher is also a good student, constantly learning new ways to motivate, educate and instill the love of learning in the their students."
Ms. Sullivan, who also teaches chemistry at Calhoun Community College, uses hands-on experiments and exercises to motivate her classes. Her students have grown to love science so much that many have pursued chemistry in college, she said.
"To help students understand chemistry, I use current events or real-life scenarios, such as the explosion of a coal mine in Tuscaloosa, why red wine is served with red meat and the chemical reactions responsible for the Statue of Liberty structural problems," said Ms. Sullivan. "I utilize class discussions, demonstrations, lab exercises and small group problem solving sessions to reach all students."
Ms. Sullivan also values her students as individuals and encourages them to come to her for advice, comfort, free after-school tutoring and encouragement.
During 2005, the Alfa Teacher of the Month program will honor one public school 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 www.alfafarmers.org.