TUSCALOOSA ACADEMY'S WHITESIDE TEACHER OF MONTH
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- "Teaching is like capturing fireflies," says Heatherly Whiteside of Tuscaloosa Academy.
"Ideas are fleeting and fragile; we must be careful when students share them with us. We must be nurturing and respectful, lest we suffocate new ideas. And finally, we must be brave and passionate enough to let these students develop these ideas and take them to illuminate the rest of the world."
It's easy to see Whiteside doesn't take her responsibility as a teacher lightly. It's also easy to see why Whiteside has been selected as Alfa's Teacher of the Month for September.
As this month's winner, Whiteside will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance, and her school, Tuscaloosa Academy, will receive a matching award from the Alabama Farmers Federation.
Whiteside, who teaches middle school English and literature and upper school government and economics, graduated the University of Alabama with a bachelor of arts, which she first used as a television news producer. She first came to Tuscaloosa Academy as a substitute teacher, but has since developed and implemented creative and interactive lesson plans for middle and upper school students.
She says at the very core of learning is doing, or putting into action what you learn. To do that, she says, students must participate and contribute.
"Contribution can only occur when students want to participate, and they have little or no fear of rejection," she says.
No wonder Cita Smith, Tuscaloosa Academy's middle school dean, says Whiteside "brings honor to the teaching profession."
"Not only does she show creativity in her teaching style, but she also shows great compassion for those struggling to learn," said Smith.
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 $218,000 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.