By Tia Lynn Ivey
Don’t complain about the problem, become part of the solution. That is the story of Jeannie Rice, Morgan County’s System Teacher of the Year.
Rice addressed the Morgan County Board of Education last Monday, Sept. 9 to share about her experiences as a teacher and the goals for her students. Rice decided to become a teacher after noticing deficiencies in her child’s own classroom.
“I first became a teacher because I didn’t like some of the things that were happening in my daughter’s pre-K class, and I wanted to be part of the solution,” said Rice. “Then, I started to recognize the massive impact that teachers had on my little family. This made me become a better teacher as I thought about how I impacted families.”
“We are proud to have Jeannie Rice represent the Morgan County Charter School System as the System Teacher of the Year,” said Assistant Superintendent Jay Homan. “As a fifth grade science teacher, she does an excellent job of promoting instructional engagement and motivating her students. Mrs. Rice is intentional about building positive relationships with her students in order to maximize their potential. She works collaboratively with her colleagues and all stakeholders to build a genuine learning community.”
Rice, who teaches at Morgan County Elementary School, hopes not only to run a classroom, but to create a community within her classroom and within the schools.
“The purpose of public education is to make the public better,” said Rice. “My goal is to help students see the relevance of what we learn in school so they can become better citizens…Our classroom is a community. But our classroom doesn’t have to be in a classroom.”Rice regularly brings her students outside to do to hands-on learning projects, such as gardening and art assignments. Her class also raises baby chicks, learning to take on responsibility. Rice calls it “community building with poultry.”Rice believes her time at Morgan County has improved her teaching abilities as she adapted to the specific needs of her students here. “When I came to Morgan County, I grew as a teacher because I had to in order to serve my students,” explained Rice. “So many students in our community face challenging family situations. Teachers and school staff are often the only consistent solid structure for students who didn’t have a typical upbringing. I believe that stretching myself to be what each of my students needs is probably what has made me feel most fulfilled by my practice. I love knowing that I provided some of the ‘mom stuff’ that a kid with no mom needed, while also providing the child who lives in a supporting environment the challenge he or she needs.” Rice credits her students, school staff and her own family in helping her be able to create safe and meaningful classrooms for Morgan County students.“Thank you for this honor and for the opportunity to share my experience,” said Rice.