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February 02, 2009   Email to Friend 

Darryal Ray
(334) 613-4187
February 02, 2009

Dr. Holly Morgan
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- It's a prescription for learning from Dr. Holly Morgan: First, get to know your student; and second, empower them to be life-long learners.

"Each day, 22 students enter the doors of my third-grade classroom. It is my belief that these students have been entrusted, from both their parents and the school system, to my daily care," says Morgan. "In order to maximize and customize their learning, I must apply the two ideals of my educational philosophy: knowing my students and empowering my students."

It is that philosophy -- and how Morgan utilizes it -- that earned her recognition as Alfa's Teacher of the Month for February. As this month's winner, she will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance, and her school -- Memorial Park Elementary in Jasper -- will receive a matching award from the Alabama Farmers Federation.

Morgan, who holds a master's in education and doctor of philosophy degrees from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, takes so seriously her quest to truly know her students that she surrounds herself with data about them. At the beginning of the school year, she takes "interest inventories" from both students and parents. These give her a better understanding of the students' reading preferences, interests, hobbies and learning styles.

She also schedules conferences with parents throughout the year, and draws upon information from such sources as achievement tests, reading screening and fluency assessments.

Once she feels she knows her students, Morgan then uses the information to shape instruction on a daily basis. For reading instruction, she forms small groups, partnerships and literature circles that accommodate students' needs, learning styles and reading preferences. For math and science instruction, she utilizes hands-on, minds-on instruction with writing incorporated throughout.

"Learning is fun, not work, because learning throughout the day is connected with real-life experiences," Morgan says. "Students are empowered to continue learning because it is not a chore; it is a daily, exciting quest."

During 2009, 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.

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