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October 30, 2009   Email to Friend 

Darryal Ray
(334) 613-4187
October 30, 2009

Andrea Maness
MONTGOMERY, Ala. --  Andrea Maness of Zion Chapel High School teaches the finer points of algebra -- you know, how X plus Y equals Z, etc.? But it was the "I" part that stumped her when she began teaching teenagers.

"When I first began teaching, I was very 'I-oriented.' I gave the problems in class, I showed how to work the problems, I gave the answers, I gave the assignments, I graded the assignments, I gave the tests, I graded the tests, and then I started all over again!'" she says. "What a tiring and endless cycle that benefits no one!"

So, Maness decided to make a change, a change that earned her recognition as Alfa's Teacher of the Month for November. As the honoree for November, she will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance and her school, a part of the Coffee County School System, will receive $1,000 from Alabama Farmers Federation.

The change that Maness made was her decision to become a "tour guide," beginning class with a short review of the previous day's discoveries and linking those discoveries to the current day's lesson.

"I prompt them with questions such as 'Why is the answer...?' 'How would the problem change if we changed this component to ...?', and 'What are other ways we can arrive at the same solution of ...?' Through this technique of guided discovery, the students tend to grasp concepts more deeply."

It's obviously a change that worked well, as her Algebra I students won the Coffee County Math Bowl, the Class of 2009 had a 100 percent passing rate on the Alabama High School Graduation Exam (AHSGE) and the Class of 2010 has the highest pass rate in the county on the math portion of the AHSGE.

"I am not a miracle worker and not every child I have come in contact with over the last five years is as successful as they can possibly be," says Maness, who holds a bachelors degree in math education from Troy State. "But I do find that my students learn to respect my passion for mathematics and for the relevance of it in our daily lives."

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 AlfaFarmers.org.

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