Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

January 22, 2013

Close to home for top teacher

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — The honor is close to home for Melinda Alfred after she was named Pauls Valley’s teacher of the year on Monday.

Alfred, who grew up in Pauls Valley and is now an educator in her hometown, was selected for the honor from among a group of five local site teachers of the year chosen this past fall.

The others include John Inman at the high school, Sandy Samis at Lee Elementary, Dara Ammons at Jackson Elementary and Lynette Ramming at Jefferson Early Learning Center.

Dozens of PV teachers and administrators gathered Monday to see which honoree would be named as the 2012-2013 teacher of the year for the PV district.

The winner turned out to be Alfred, who is the site winner from the junior high.

“I was really surprised,” Alfred said moments about the announcement.

”What I do is more a team effort rather than an individual thing,” she said. “Honoring me with this says a lot about the people I work with.

”I’m honored and blessed to get this.”

Alfred is a 1983 graduate of PVHS. She went on to attend East Central University in Ada where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English.

She then began working at Paoli Schools as an English teacher in 1989. The next year she started a Master of Library and Information Studies program at the University of Oklahoma and also began working as a school librarian at Paoli, where she stayed for 14 years.

Alfred was then hired by PV Schools as a full-time school librarian teaching mornings at PV Junior High and afternoons at Jackson Elementary, where she has been for the past 10 years.

With Monday’s honor going to Alfred she received a variety of prizes donated by a number of local businesses.

The way the selection process begins is each site teacher is selected in a vote by their fellow teachers at their respective schools.

Once the five honorees are announced they each go through what is described as a lengthy application process by members of the local Professional Development Committee.

The committee is made up of representatives from each PV school and the area of special education.

With the committee ultimately choosing the district teacher of the year, members look at a whole list of things for each teacher, including their education, experience and the areas that go “above and beyond” the classroom teaching.

Jeanie Menefee is JELC’s longtime principal who serves as a non-voting member on the committee.

“It’s not always easy choosing the teacher of the year, but the committee always goes into it open-minded,” Menefee said.

“It is such a great honor when it comes from your peers,” she said with a few tears tossed in during Monday’s gathering.

Darsha Huckabaa is PV’s school superintendent now but she remembers the honor of being selected early in her teaching career as a site teacher of the year at a school here.

“I thought at the time that with all the great teachers it was a great honor to be selected by your peers,” Huckabaa said.

”That’s why it’s such a great honor; because their selected by their peers,” she said.

“With all the wonderful teachers they could have chosen, it was just such a great honor to be the one chosen.”