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J.T. Alton teachers awarded for making a difference

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By Kelly Richardson

 

By KELLY RICHARDSON krichardson@thenewsenterprise.com VINE GROVE — Four middle school teachers have proven that in Kentucky, they reign supreme. A team of four teachers at James T. Alton were named one of two teams in the state as a Team that Makes a Difference by the Kentucky Middle School Association. Elly Baker, Fabian Bennett, Shelly Vanyo and Donna Miller are the teachers for the Supreme Team, a group of about 115 seventh-graders who have these four teachers for their core subjects — Baker for social studies, Bennett for math, Vanyo for science and Miller for language arts. The four teachers were nominated by an unknown person, and after receiving the nomination, filled out an application and received letters of recommendation from a parent, a student and Principal Jama Bennett. The teachers were asked to address how they’ve improved their students’ educations and how working as a team has made this possible. The teachers meet once a week and have lunch every day to discuss their students. As a team, they can evaluate how a student performs in all their classes and find ways to solve problems together. “We work together as a family unit,” Vanyo said. They also are able to study the same topics together and apply them to each of their subject areas. In their application, they mentioned a lesson on ancient Egypt that included studying the pyramids and the time period in social studies, relating the Pythagorean Theorem to the pyramids in math, writing articles on the subject in language arts and comparing the physical and chemical changes that occur in mummification in science. Jama Bennett said in her letter that everything is always done together on the Supreme Team. “Their adherence to unity as a team and the way learning is integrated and inclusive across all content areas explains why students are so successful,” she wrote. Rachel Laws, the student who wrote a letter of recommendation, said watching the teachers work together is a good example for the students. “When you are on the Supreme Team, it really feels like you are all just one big, loving family,” Laws said. They said students like having a team of teachers to work with and don’t like it when a substitute has to fill in for someone. “They have a hard time when we’re not here,” Miller said. Baker said the teachers have a difficult time as well. The teachers plan to apply for the national honor through the National Middle School Association next year. Kelly Richardson can be reached at (270) 505-1747.