HARLAN ELEMENTARY'S COKER CHOSEN ALFA PRINCIPAL OF MONTH
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- When people talk about Dr. Shirley Coker, there's one thing clear about the Harlan Elementary School principal -- she's a firm believer in teamwork.
|Dr. Shirley Coker|
That's why the faculty at the Florence City School campus is divided into teams according to grade levels. And that's why a new team leader is assigned each school year, allowing all to be in an assigned leadership position to set agendas for meetings and direct the team in its goals.
"There is no way that a single person, or a few chosen people, can do all that needs to be accomplished to promote a superior school," says Coker, who has been chosen Alfa's "Principal of the Month" for July. 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.
Coker, who earned her doctorate degree in 2002 from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, came to Harlan in 1997 after a 14-year teaching career and three years as an assistant principal at Florence's Hibbett Middle School.
Almost immediately, she saw the need for teamwork in the school where 73 percent of the students are of minority race and 83 percent are eligible for free- or reduced-price lunches.
"Many natural leaders have emerged with self-confidence after being assigned the leadership position for a school year," said Coker. "From the custodians to the cafeteria workers, from the assistants to the teachers, all personnel and parents at Harlan understand that we must work together to enhance the success of academic achievement for each and every student."
In the second year of her principalship at Harlan, Coker initiated a school-wide reading program, which her staff -- along with parents, students and community members -- designed to meet the needs of all students.
"While the demographics of our school present special challenges, Dr. Coker consistently sets high standards for herself, our faculty and staff and the students," said Barbara Allgood, Harlan's Alabama Reading Initiative coach.
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.