Teacher provides spark for students

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 5, 2005

Greenville High’s Teacher of the Year, Debbie Lawrence, is an eight-year veteran of the classroom.

She knows it takes more than knowledge to make her math classes an outstanding experience for her students. It takes a bit of pizzazz – and a lot of enthusiasm.

&uot;I have a sign behind my desk with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘Nothing was ever achieved without enthusiasm.’ My ambition is to touch my students’ lives with a spark of interest and to build their education so they can blast into the adult world with many dreams to live,&uot; Lawrence explains.

Lawrence grew up in the Highland Home Community in neighboring Crenshaw County and graduated from Highland Home School. She went on to attend Troy State University, graduating with a BS Degree in Comprehensive Mathematics Education in 1997. She completed her Master’s Degree in Secondary Mathematics Education in 2001 at TSU.

Lawrence says she had wonderful teachers &uot;from kindergarten through college&uot; who influenced her choice to teach and the methods with which she chooses to teach.

&uot;My kindergarten teacher, fourth grade teacher, high school algebra teacher and two special college math professors were my most influential teachers,&uot; she explains.

In her eight years at GHS, Lawrence has taught Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry and technology class called T4 Alabama (Teens and Teachers Teaming for Technology).

While she loves children &uot;of all ages,&uot; Lawrence says she is especially drawn to serve the young adults in the community. &uot;I think it is so important to provide our young people with a strong base to go on to college or into the workforce.&uot;

Not only does she teach students about the finer points of mathematics, GHS’s Teacher of the Year also leads by example outside the classroom. In the past, she has sponsored the Mu Alpha Theta Math Honorary and Tiger Representatives.

This year, Lawrence is serving as Key Club advisor, a position she especially enjoys.

&uot;Key Club has been my favorite club to sponsor. The students learn to serve others in the community in a variety of ways. From helping with Kiwanis Club projects, to providing help to both the young and old, they truly learn to love to help others,&uot; says Lawrence, adding, &uot;It is a true delight to see young people so willing to give of themselves.&uot;

When away from her classroom, GHS’s ‘top teach’ enjoys spending time with family, including husband Jimbo and 2-year-old daughter Shelby, and friends.

And what are the qualities this outstanding educator believes make a good teacher?

&uot;Not only do I think it takes enthusiasm to teach well, teachers need to research and find engaging and motivating lessons that encourage children to want to learn.&uot;

She also has advice for those who are just setting out into the &uot;real world&uot;.

&uot;I always tell my graduating seniors to set their own goals, do their best and remember to be happy with their choices. They can choose to be lawyers, doctors, service providers, mechanics or wood-working professionals – as long as they are happy.&uot;