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May 11, 2009   Email to Friend 

Kim Hall
(334) 613-4187
May 11, 2009

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Teacher and athletic trainer Marijean Cannon Ballard can count on one hand the methods she uses every day in teaching science, sports medicine and anatomy students at Fultondale High School.

There are case studies, hands-on learning, interactive lessons, group work and repetition -- all elements that have helped earn Ballard selection as the Alfa Teacher of the Month for May, earning her a $1,000 award from Alfa Insurance and Fultondale High School a matching $1,000 award from the Alabama Farmers Federation.

"While teaching students in anatomy or sports medicine, she gives students hands-on experience with the athletes at school," says FHS Principal Donna Williamon. "Many times, you see students from her classes on the sidelines with her. Because of that, she has had students follow her path to be an athletic trainer or work in some related field."

Yet, Ballard's students are seldom on the academic sideline as she strives to keep them "actively engaged" in the learning process.

"My goal as a teacher is to educate my students and encourage them to participate in the learning experience and their education to the fullest extent possible," says Ballard, who holds a master's in health education from the University of South Alabama and a bachelor's of science in athletic training from the University of West Alabama.

She accomplishes that goal, she says, through the five aforementioned methods. "Gone are the days of the lecture for two days and take a multiple-choice test," says Ballard. "Today's teachers must come up with ways to accommodate all learners and all learning styles."

"In the end, most any teacher can be a 'good' teacher," Ballard says. "But to be a great teacher, you must continually evaluate yourself and your teaching methods as well as ensure you are making every effort to educate your students."

During 2009, Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Federation will honor one outstanding teacher from each of Alabama's eight state 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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