SPRINGWOOD'S COMBS ALFA TEACHER OF MONTH FOR AUGUST
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Hands-on learning, high-energy instruction and ongoing professional development are the keys to a teaching philosophy that has earned Linda Combs the respect of students and recognition as Alfa's Teacher of the Month for August.
As this month's winner, Combs will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance, and her school, Springwood School in Lanett, will receive a matching award from the Alabama Farmers Federation.
A biology and life science teacher, Combs began her career in 1971 in Lancaster, S.C., after graduating from the University of South Carolina. She later earned a master's degree from Winthrop College before joining the Springwood faculty in 1982.
Combs said 35 years of teaching experience has taught her that students learn better when they apply lessons in a laboratory setting.
"Each student has to be involved in what is going on in the classroom or nothing is learned by the individual," Combs said. "I believe that students have to be excited about learning for them to be involved.
"We do as many labs and hands-on activities as I can invent or find to do," she added. "The students' labs get more difficult as the year goes along. They have to incorporate writing, math and analysis into the lab reports."
Combs said she also has found that her students are more eager to learn if they are rewarded for a job well done. "I sometimes feel as if I am a cheerleader, but it works," she said.
A lifelong learner, Combs has honed her teaching skills by attending workshops across the Southeast and even as far away as Michigan and Russia.
A three-week course in the former Soviet republic gave Combs insight into space exploration that she was able to incorporate into her classes. In Michigan, she attended a Teachers' Earth Science Institute focused on mining, which also yielded lessons for her college-bound pupils.
During 2006, 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. Since 1998, the Alfa Teacher of the Month program has awarded $216,000 to deserving teachers and their schools. Application information is available under Alfa Teacher of the Month in the Ag Links section of www.AlfaFarmers.org.