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Alpharetta ES teacher named Fulton Teacher of the Year | People

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Alpharetta ES teacher named Fulton Teacher of the Year
Alpharetta ES teacher named Fulton Teacher of the Year

ALPHARETTA, Ga. -- Alpharetta Elementary School fifth grade teacher Pamela Haight is the Fulton County School System Teacher of the Year for 2012-13, the district announced Tuesday.

Haight, who was first named the system's Elementary School Teacher of the Year, beat two other finalists for the honor -- Middle School Teacher of the Year Barbara Bell (Ridgeview Charter School) and High School Teacher of the Year Kimberly Cooney (Chattahoochee High School).

"I am so proud of Ms. Haight. She is truly a master teacher," Alpharetta Elementary principal Adam Maroney said in a statement. "While academics are Ms. Haight's focus, she recognizes the importance of teaching the whole child and creates ways to connect with and reach each and every student she teaches. She is an asset to Alpharetta Elementary, the community and Fulton County Schools."

Haight will be recognized at a gala with her fellow Employees and Teachers of the Year next fall.

According to the Fulton County School System, Haight was chosen for a number of reasons:

Pamela Haight knows that she doesn't have the quietest class on Alpharetta Elementary's fifth grade hall, but it is a place where students are excited to be learning.

"As you're walking down toward my class, you will probably hear us singing at the top of our lungs about adverbs, adjectives or some other part of speech," she wrote in her Teacher of the Year application essay. "Maybe you'll see my fifth graders standing on chairs, acting out Hamlet, or dressed all in black with berets reciting original poetry. We are different, but we like it."

Haight believes that students can be intrinsically motivated if learning can be made fun. She found frustration in how students struggled to learn the material in her class, yet could learn all the words from a Justin Bieber song just a day after it was released. Then she began mixing popular music with her class material and student enthusiastically began learning about parts of speech through tunes such as "The Lazy Adjective Song," a tribute to a Bruno Mars song, or "Adjectives Modify Verbs," a parody of a Willow Smith song.

In her years of teaching, Haight also discovered that students are eager to learn if they know their teacher is invested in their learning. She attends their sports games and recitals, and keeps up with former students as they move on to middle and high school. Her excitement in their success helps inspire students to push themselves and apply themselves in class.


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