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Bonnie Howard, Madison Elementary’s ‘Teacher of the Year,’ promotes collaboration

MADISON – At Madison Elementary School, Bonnie Howard strives to make the Library Media Center an extension of the classroom. Howard is 2022 “Teacher of the Year.”

“Prior to becoming an educator, I was a Public Health Environmentalist for Madison County Department of Public Health. Madison Elementary School has been my home as an educator since 2012,” Howard said.

Howard has taught all fifth-grade subjects and sixth-grade science and social studies. She now works with all students (grades K-5) as Library Media Specialist.

“I work collaboratively with teachers to design lessons that empower students to be critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers and global collaborators,” Howard said.

Howard approaches education “as a safe place to land when trying something new . . . where mistakes are viewed as opportunities for learning and not a projection of failure and where educated risks are encouraged.”

“I’m super proud of a recent collaboration with Kimberly Marrazzo’s kindergarten class because it demonstrates how many Course of Study standards can be met with library/classroom collaborations,” Howard said. Students navigated to the Alabama Virtual Library with Clever and then to the Pebble Go-Animals website. An animal ‘chose’ each student, who researched by reading and listening to non-fiction text and video. They then drew the animal.

During the second visit to the library, students navigated to Google slides, digitally photographed their illustration and inserted it into the Google slide. Students used Chromebook keyboards to recognize lowercase letters and type one sentence about their animal. Students shared slides with Howard, who created a presentation.

“This example (is) how classroom/library collaborations extend student learning and increase opportunities to meet cross-curricular Course of Study objectives,” Howard said.

“I’m fortunate to work among amazing collaborative educators at Madison Elementary. I feel fortunate every day to have the best job in the world,” Howard said.

Howard first earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial hygiene from the University of North Alabama and then pursued education study with a bachelor’s degree from Athens State University. Next, she completed a master’s degree in library media from the University of West Alabama.

“I’m certified in Elementary Education K-5, School Library Media P-12, English for speakers of other languages P-12, Career Technologies 6-12 and General Science 6-12,” she said. “I consider myself a lifelong learner and am always seeking opportunities to improve my skill sets.”

Bonnie’s husband Chris Howard works as a Senior Application Developer at Adtran. Their daughter June Barr is project manager for an aerospace company, and her husband Aaron is an Aerospace Engineer for the U.S. Army. The Howards’ son Price is a software developer for a defense contractor. June and Price both are graduates of Bob Jones High school and UNA.

In 2018, Bonnie visited Indonesia on a Teachers for Global Classrooms fellowship. “I extended my time there and experienced a 7.2 earthquake!” she said.

In 2020, Chris and Bonnie bought a small RV (named Oliver) and have become camping enthusiasts. In free time, Bonnie most enjoys serving as “a ‘BeBe’ (grandmother) to my most amazing 20-month-old granddaughter, Eleanor.”

This summer, Bonnie will pursue her Fund for Teachers fellowship in Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary to document the art, landscape and architecture that inspired classic fairy tales and literature. Back in Madison, she will develop a cross-curricular writing unit to encourage students to discover their own culture’s storytelling traditions.

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