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March 31, 2010   Email to Friend 

Melissa Martin
(334) 612-5448
March 31, 2010

Shelly Herbert
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Hard work and wisdom often correlate to gray hair and wrinkles, but at Fruitdale High School, these two elements transform several students into seniors -- 65-year-old seniors, to be exact.

To get her high school seniors to focus on goals they want to accomplish and guide them down the path of "real life," Fruitdale's Shelly Herbert utilizes their second semester to reflect on their lives as though they're experiencing their 65th birthday. Why get students to think so far in advance?

"Teaching is not just about learning what is in textbooks; it is also about learning how to survive after high school. As teenagers, my students sometimes make impulsive decisions. By discussing real life situations and scenes from books, my students can see how important it is to think before they act," explains Herbert, who teaches English and French to sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Her forward-thinking lessons and innovative teaching methods helped earn Herbert recognition as Alfa's Teacher of the Month. As April's honoree, Herbert will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance. Her school, a part of the Washington County School System, will receive a matching award from the Alabama Farmers Federation.

While her students have fun imagining their future lives, Herbert recognizes that studying the past is essential to a strong future. To help her students enjoy and value literature rather than memorizing passages for exams, Herbert relies on project-based learning.

"Not every student is a good test taker; therefore . . . they produce newscasts and talk shows based on Animal Farm and The Outsiders; write and produce skits based on short stories; [and] use technology to produce papers, PowerPoints, newsletters and movies," said Herbert.

Herbert received her bachelor's degree in 1985 from Mobile College and her French certification from the University of Alabama in 1989. She received her master's degree from the University of South Alabama in 1990.

During 2010, Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Federation will honor one outstanding teacher from each of Alabama's eight state board districts, 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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