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June 04, 2009   Email to Friend 

Kim Hall
(334) 613-4187
June 04, 2009

Constance Burnes
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- When the final bell rings dismissing the students at Wilkerson Middle School, it's not the end of the school day for Principal Constance W. Burnes.

"She is always searching for new methods, materials, programs, ideas, suggestions and funding to help improve the quality of education for students at Wilkerson Middle School," writes Susan Courington, WMS's librarian. "Her days begin early and end late, often including weekends and nights."

It's a dedication that has carried the Birmingham city school from academic uncertainty upon her arrival in 2004 to an academic leadership role as a "2008 Model Middle School."

It's also a dedication that has earned Burnes recognition as one of two principals honored this year in the Alfa Teacher of the Month program. As the honoree for June, she will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance and her school will receive $1,000 from Alabama Farmers Federation.

Burnes, who holds bachelor's and master's degrees in education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, believes creating the proper environment for learning is critical. She does that, she says, by "action planning."

"Application of my philosophy involves being hands-on with my students, teachers, parents and community members," she says. "I work to be highly visible, saving office hours and paperwork for nights and weekends."

She believes a school should be "attractive, inviting, welcoming and functional." Toward that end, she says consistency may be the most important factor in making certain a school runs effectively.

"I establish rules and enforce them, without exception," says Burnes. "My students know my expectations and they know the benefits of meeting and the consequences of ignoring them. They also know that the rules do not change or bend, and are applied equally to everyone."

During 2009, Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Federation are honoring 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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