My hometown, Tuscaloosa, is located along the banks of the Black Warrior River in west-central, Alabama. Tuscaloosa is not a rural community, but rather a semi-large town that is home to the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide football team. Though there are much larger cities near Tuscaloosa, we have about 100,000 residents and a thriving business community.
Whether it was reading to students in a lower grade or helping a classmate understand how to play a game or complete a task, I found enjoyment in helping others during my elementary years. As a student, learning was done through exploration, inquiry, and play; this made learning exciting. As a teacher, those experiences, as well as helping others, influenced my desire to go into teaching.
The most exciting aspect of my first year has been the realization of how rewarding this career is. I find so much honor in planning, creating, and teaching. The reward is not found just in what I present to my students each day, but also in how much joy they bring to me and what they teach me. Teaching at the first integrated school in this community has been even more rewarding knowing that I am making a difference not only in my classroom, but also in this special community.
The biggest surprise is realizing that teaching is an on-going career that doesn't fit into the 9AM-5PM bracket you may see in other careers. Even though my students may have gone home for the day or home for the weekend, I am constantly figuring out how I can make my students’ learning experience more effective and engaging. My love for teaching is what drives me to continue to learn and grow as a professional.
I do feel like I am a member of the community in the small town of Livingston. I have lived here for 5 years, which includes my undergraduate experience at the University of West Alabama. Since I graduated and began teaching, I have enjoyed teaching my kids about this special community we live in. I have also enjoyed exploring Livingston through community events.
I graduated magna cum laude from the University of West Alabama with a 3.8 GPA. While attending UWA, I became a University Ambassador and Campus Activities Board director. My role as an ambassador was to provide campus tours to visiting high school students and represent the school during on campus events. As a Campus Activities Board Director, I planned a variety of social and diverse events for students throughout the year. I am also Black Belt Teacher Corps Scholar, which is a program to address teacher shortages in the Black Belt region through teacher preparation, leadership training, and service projects.
It is very vital to learn about and be intentional about loving the community in which you teach. Make it a priority to find out what makes that community special. The more you learn about that particular community, the more you will know your students and their culture and values.
Ty White - Willcox, AZ
May 10, 2023
Celebrating the continued work of the 2022 National Rural Teacher of the Year
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Dave Perry - Cloquet, MN
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Restorative Practices and healthy relationships prepare students for success in and out of the classroom
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Jennifer Maras - Morris, MN
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“Relationships will always prevail over shiny toys.”