CENTRAL SCHOOL'S LEE CHOSEN ALFA TEACHER OF MONTH
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Mary Lee, a fifth-grade teacher at Central School in Madison County, believes teachers have to look beyond the walls of their classroom to know their students' needs and help them reach their fullest potential. She says teachers help bridge the gap between children of varied socioeconomic, ethnic and developmental backgrounds.
"People need safety, love and their physiological needs met; the human spirit longs for a sense of worthiness," Lee said. "All children come to school with different schemata based on their culture and influences beyond the gates of institutionalized education that affect their success or failure in the world."
Activities in Lee's classroom and her interaction with students and their parents help her understand the needs of her students, and are among the reasons she was chosen as Alfa's Teacher of the Month for January.
As this month's winner, Lee will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance, and her school, Central School in Huntsville, will receive a matching award from the Alabama Farmers Federation.
Lee holds a master's degree in elementary education from the University of Alabama and a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Athens State College. She was named Alabama's American History Teacher of the Year in November 2006 and earlier that year was named Madison County Teacher of the Year. She also was named Central School Teacher of the Year for 2005-2006, and has written and received numerous grants for her school.
Lee believes interaction with parents of her students also is crucial to a child's education.
"I am in constant contact with my (students') parents by a weekly newsletter," she said. "They may ask questions by email, writing notes, calling or conference with me."
A parent of a former student said many children consider Lee their favorite teacher. "Every student who has had the fortune of having Mrs. Lee as their teacher learned something in that classroom that they will carry with them forever," the parent said.
During 2007, 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 under Alfa Teacher of the Month in the Ag Links section of www.AlfaFarmers.org.