Thursday, December 28, 2006
Linda Belk nominated Teacher of the Year
Linda Belk, a teacher at Marshall Academy for 27 years, has been nominated for Mississippi Private School Association Elementary Teacher of the Year.
“I have been so impressed with her ability to help, especially those children who need special attention,” said headmaster Jane C. Hubbard. “I am amazed at her ability to communicate even the most difficult of math skills to her fifth and sixth grade students.”
Diane Greer, elementary principal, said, “Her (Belk’s) teaching success is reflected by her many students who have gone on to be outstanding citizens and remember that ‘Mrs. Belk,’ from grade school, was an inspiration to achieve the goals that they set for themselves in school and in life.”
Belk is married to attorney Fred Belk, and they have four children – Tish, Fred III, Fielding and Jonathan. The Holly Springs resident has taught for 32 years.
As part of the nomination packet, Anne Greer, an eighth grader at MA, wrote: “It is said and known at our school that if you can make it through Mrs. Belk’s class, you can make it through almost anything. She is the strictest teacher I have ever had, but by far the most dedicated to setting us straight, making us learn, and having us come out on the other side better individuals than before we had her.
“Mrs. Belk is an all-around wonderful person and a great role model. One of the greatest things about her is that she reminds all of her students that she believes in them every day.”
Belk, in connection with the nomination, wrote the following essay entitled, “Identifying the Ingredients of Effective Teaching.”
“I suppose that identifying the ingredients of effective teaching can be compared to my learning to cook after I married. There were all sorts of ingredients available to me to help me become a good cook. However, I experienced many failed attempts by simply not knowing what to mix with what and the proper order for mixing each ingredient. Things so simple as whether to mix hot or cold water with flour for blending purposes or whether to first mix butter and flour or butter and sugar together when making a cake.
“The information was before me. I had a cookbook, but if the ingredients were not given in the correct order for mixing, I was in trouble. Like the time that I tried to make chicken and dumplings for my husband...my recipe failed to make it clear to me that I was to put the dough into hot boiling water. Needless to say, we didn’t eat chicken and dumplings that evening. In fact, I could have plastered the walls with what I had made.
“The same is true with teaching. There was much theory and there were books available to me, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that each student was different and unique. So, just as I learned with my cooking experiences, I had to learn so much myself about mixing and blending before I could be effective as a teacher.
“There are several ingredients that I have found, through the years, when mixed properly and in the right proportions, to be effective. This is a tried and true recipe for “Effective Teaching: 1 cup of firm, consistent discipline; 1 cup of calm assertiveness; 1 cup of fairness.
“Blend these ingredients together well. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of fun and stir constantly until you see the mixture, your student’s knowledge, begin to take shape. Even when it looks as though this will not work, keep persevering. Sprinkle all of this with genuine love for the student and there will be a positive outcome.
“Several other important ingredients I have found along the way to achieve effective teaching are to always hold each student responsible for his actions. The best way I have found to do this is to lay ground rules and stick to these. The student feels secure when they know the boundaries and any consequences that will come as a result of not staying within these boundaries.
“As a teacher you should expect from each student their very best work at all times. I have found that they do live up to the expectations you have for them once they realize you care for them. One way they realize that you care is if you respect them as an individual. Be willing for them to see your shortcomings and to let them know that you are willing to learn with them.
“When you have finished blending and mixing all these ingredients together you can count on and enjoy the results for years to come. Your end result should be that each student grows into a responsible adult.”
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