SIMMONS MIDDLE SCHOOL'S WOOD TEACHER OF MONTH
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Russann Wood says there are "three basic principals" she uses in her classroom each day.
One is to establish an "open and inviting" setting for learning.
Another is to teach in such a way that it reaches each student, not just the entire class.
Lastly, she cultivates a desire for continued learning.
"I want my students to hunger for more," said Wood, who teaches English as a second language to sixth- through eighth-graders at Simmons Middle School in Hoover. "I do not want them to settle. Seeing how their parents live, how their parents work, I want them to know that they have choices. Life is about choices and opportunities. Teaching children how to make those choices is just as important as teaching them to speak English."
Wood's teaching principals have earned her recognition as Alfa's Teacher of the Month for May. As this month's winner, she will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance, and her school will receive a matching award from the Alabama Farmers Federation.
Wood, who holds a bachelor's of science degree from the University of Montevallo and master's degrees from Montevallo and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, began teaching in 1984 after a stint as a medic in the U.S. Army at Fort Hood, Texas.
Since then, she has given numerous presentations on teaching English as a second language and earned such accolades as Simmons' Teacher of the Year, Secondary Teacher of the Year in District IV last year and Secondary Teacher of the Year in Hoover City Schools.
"Russann's positive attitude is contagious," says Carol Barber, principal of Simmons Middle School. "Her advocacy role for some extremely difficult situations with students helps other teachers to refocus and to concentrate on aspects of the student's life that we can control and help to change versus just giving up because of poor situations over which we have no control. She starts with this attitude and begins her task of convincing other teachers, and of the student himself, that he is a significant person and one who can achieve and succeed."
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.