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July 18, 2011   Email to Friend 

Melissa Martin
July 18, 2011

Michael Wilson
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Teaching children how to read is an important step in their future, but encouraging them to read during their free time is a challenge all its own. To overcome this struggle, one Birmingham principal utilizes carnival-like methods to captivate his students' interest in books.

"To motivate the students, I have allowed them to throw pies at me and attempt to dunk me in a tank of water. This year, they have decided to slime me," said Michael Wilson, Glen Iris Elementary School principal. "It is all a lot of fun, and the students are reading a record number of books. Last year, we logged over 50,000 books school-wide."

Though he has a strong rapport with students and faculty, Wilson is also quite active in securing Glen Iris' future through grant writing and community advocacy programs. Most recently, the school was able to build a playground after securing a grant from KaBOOM!, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide play spaces in urban areas. The tangible effects of his efforts are humbling, but his unremitting hands-on approach to improving the community, school, students and the faculty are prime examples of Wilson's character.

It's for his dedication to education that Wilson earned his designation as one of two principals honored in Alfa's Teacher of the Month program this year. As July's honoree, he will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance. His school, a division of Birmingham City Schools, will receive a matching award from the Alabama Farmers Federation. While Glen Iris is successful because of Wilson's talent in securing funds and programs through grants and community outreach, he is the first to admit that the support he's given enables him to be a better leader.

"Such participation allows me to gain constant perspective from various viewpoints and allows me to have a greater understanding of the issues we face in our schools and communities," said Wilson. "Through associations with various groups, we have been able to bring programs and guests to our school that students would not ordinarily have the chance to experience."

Wilson received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Southern Methodist University in 1975; his Master's Degree in Special Education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in 1993; an Educational Specialist (Ed. S) degree in Special Education from UAB in 1995; a second Ed. S. in Educational Administration from the University of Montevallo in 1990; and a Doctor of Education in Instructional Leadership from the University of Alabama in 2003.

Alfa and the Alabama Farmers Federation honor one outstanding teacher from each of Alabama's eight state board districts, two principals and two private school teachers throughout the year. Information is available on line Click Here.

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