J.F. DRAKE MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL RECOGNIZED BY ALFA
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- For Forrest Gump, life was like a box of chocolates. But to Debra S. Beebe, principal of J.F. Drake Middle School in Auburn, it's more like a box of Cracker Jack.
|Debra S. Beebe|
"The word 'education' is limitless," said Beebe, the Alfa Teacher of the Month recipient for July. "True educators know how to recognize the gifts in every child. Some of the gifts are more difficult to find in some children, and it is our job to keep digging. I once heard the comparison to a box of Cracker Jack: Some come with the prizes on top and are easy to find, some you have to dig a little, and some you have to dump the box to find the prize. My belief is that we all have gifts, and we have to dig to find the gift in each child while connecting to the kids to help them be successful in a school setting and daily life."
It is a philosophy that has served Beebe well as the principal of J.F. Drake Middle School for the past 10 years and as assistant principal for four years before that. As the second principal to be so honored in Alfa's Teacher of the Month program this year, Beebe will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance, and her school will receive a matching award from the Alabama Farmers Federation.
Beebe, who holds a master's degree in physical education from Chicago State University and a bachelor's degree in physical education from Eastern Illinois University, said she loves her job because there is never a "normal" day at J.F. Drake, which has 850 students.
"Children come to us from a wide variety of backgrounds, support systems, family structures, financial situations and some without their basic needs being met," said Beebe. "It is my job as the school leader to encourage my staff to connect with each child that enters the doors. Connections build trust and comfort. If a child's basic needs are not being met, then we meet them or find someone who can."
"Every decision is based on what it will do for the success of the students -- every one of them," said Drake teacher Monteigne Ray Mathison. "The faculty is encouraged to plan, create and implement a teaching setting that makes students excited to get to Drake. If there is a better way, it will become the Drake Way."
During 2008, Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Federation honored 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 AlfaFarmers.org.