Straughn’s Burleson named ‘teacher of the year’

Published 2:05 am Wednesday, October 15, 2008

“She rocks!”

That’s how a student describes Straughn Middle School seventh grade teacher Deidre Burleson. It’s also a description that won Burleson the honor of Andalusia Wal-Mart’s Teacher of the Year award Tues., Sept. 30.

Burleson was honored before the entire SMS student body and staff, as well as Covington County School Board and Wal-Mart representatives.

The Teacher of the Year program begins each February when each Wal-Mart store, Sam’s Club, Neighborhood Market and distribution center accepts nominations from their community — parents, educators and school children — for local “Teacher of the Year” honors.

The nominations are compiled and each of the company’s 4,000-plus locations surprises a local teacher with a $1,000 donation to their school in their honor. In addition to the $1,000 donation to SMS, Burleson was given a certificate and a $100 gift card.

Burleson now has the option to complete a comprehensive application form for the state winner phase.

A box was placed at the front of the store, and students and parents were asked to write a brief description of why they thought their teacher deserved the honor of “Teacher of the Year.”

“(Burleson) takes up time with all of her students,” the anonymous student wrote. “She goes one-on-one with her students if needed. She is always there for you. She really knows how to make you laugh and smile. She puts enthusiasm into her teaching and work.”

Andalusia Wal-Mart store manager Earl Preachers said the community is lucky to have teachers like Burleson.

“Our area has fantastic teachers,” he said. “Some just have the ability to stand out — like Deidre Burleson.”

Burleson was quite shocked at the honor, even tearing up when Preachers presented her with her certificate.

“I have taught at a number of schools,” Burleson said. “However, none as great as Straughn. I’m just one of many teachers who cares about the students. Teaching is just my calling in life.”