By Terri Ferguson Smith / email@example.com
The Meridian Star
Students at Enterprise High School know that their 11th grade history teacher isn't just there — in the classroom — she's there for them. That dedication, according to her principal Mike Weathers, is one of the reasons many of Ann Bailey's students nominated her for the Golden Apple Teacher of the Month.
Bailey was surprised to learn she had been tapped for the honor when award sponsors and the media entered her classroom unannounced earlier this month.
A tearful Bailey said she loves her students.
"They don't think so every day, but I do," she said.
Weathers said Bailey's students have great access to her.
"She's available for them. She's always here. She loves every one of them the same amount no matter who they are or where they come from or what their grade is. She's a dedicated teacher. She's been doing it a long time and she knows what she's doing," Weathers said.
Her students consistently earn high scores on state-mandated history tests, he said.
Bailey has been teaching since 1969 — a fact that is not lost on her students.
"They think I've lived all of history, that I've experienced it personally and I have, quite a bit," Bailey joked.
One of the nominating students said she frequently brings music, videos, photographs, campaign pins and other items into class.
“She goes to great lengths when it comes to student comprehension of her history lessons. Mrs. Bailey is more than willing to spend extra time if necessary to get a point across," the student wrote. "She doesn't just teach history; she has lived it and remembers it fondly. Simply put, Mrs. Bailey was surely meant to be a teacher because she does it with such personality and skill. History, she believes, is not just events that took place years ago. History is life; history is progress and setback. History is art. History is continuing today and forever. Thanks to Mrs. Bailey, I think her students understand this."
Other students also had high praise for Bailey.
"Mrs. Bailey has been teaching us about World War II," another student wrote. "She actually brought in WW II memorabilia from when her father fought in the Guadalcanal including letters her father wrote, old pictures, mail, and also an old sewing kit that belonged to one of her family members."
A teacher for 45 years, Bailey said some changes in the classroom are reflective of changes in society.
"There is much more media. They want things to be fast-paced and to move along," Bailey said. "I think it's very different. I think you have to have a lot of different activities and things happening to keep them moving with you."
The era of electronic technology has helped her expand her curriculum.
"I can go to the computer and I can pull up a video clip, I can pull up a speech. I can pull up something from the news from a certain time period and that makes it more interesting to the students," Bailey said. "It's almost like they can experience it first-hand."
Bailey said she acquired a love of history from her parents who were government workers and from one of her grandfathers, who was also involved in government.
"We moved a good bit so every place we moved my parents made sure that we became involved in what happened in that particular area. They took us to museums and took us to famous places," Bailey said. "I guess I have always enjoyed it. It was a passion of my family's and I guess that was passed down to me."
She never considered anything other than teaching as a profession, she said.
"I knew I wanted to be a teacher from the first day of first grade," Bailey said.
Enthusiasm for teaching is also important, but a support system is also an essential ingredient for success in the classroom, she said.
"I'm teaching in a wonderful district and that helps. I have terrific coworkers," Bailey said. "There are wonderful teachers here and administration, the students, parents — everyone makes this a wonderful place to be. That's generally always been my experience."
During the presentation of the Golden Apple Award, Bailey received a Golden Apple trophy, a $300 check, a voucher for $1,000 in school supplies and she will automatically be in the running for teacher of the year, which will be announced in May.
For the Golden Apple Award, each month nominations are solicited and a panel of judges considers the nominations after the teachers' names, and the names of the schools have been removed.
Nominations can be submitted by parents, faculty, or community members as well as past and present students. Candidates must be a current, full-time, faculty member in a public or private school system who is working within the following counties: in Mississippi — Lauderdale, Neshoba, Kemper, Clarke, or Newton counties. In Alabama — Choctaw and Sumter counties.
The nomination process consists of an essay of no more than 500 words detailing why the person should be considered for the Golden Apple Award. The teacher of the month will be recognized in a surprise ceremony and will receive a prize package and a cash award.
Specific details and an entry form are on meridianstar.com and wgbctv.com . Those interested in nominating a teacher should go to either of the websites, and click on the Golden Apple logo.