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Space Club names Thorpe as Educator of the Year

MADISON – National Space Club in Huntsville has named Tammy Thorpe, who recently retired from Madison City Schools, as Educator of the Year.

Thorpe received the prestigious award at the 29th annual Dr. Wernher Von Braun Memorial Dinner at U.S. Space and Rocket Center on Oct. 26. The club presents the award to a teacher or administrator who has contributed significantly in grades K-12 with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math or STEM.

During Thorpe’s 28-year teaching career, she taught for 12 years in Madison City Schools. At Heritage Elementary School and later at Mill Creek Elementary School, Thorpe taught math and science.

Thorpe was recognized for innovative teaching practices and active use of Alabama Math Science Technology Initiative or AMSTI program that incorporates STEM activities among its teaching tools.

“I work really hard to build strong relationships with my students,” Thorpe said in an earlier interview with “The Madison Record.” “Those relationships are absolutely essential to positively affect their lives and have an everlasting impact. That is what’s important to me.”

Long ago, Thorpe realized education’s importance from Terry, a fifth-grade boy who overcame his low self-esteem. At year’s end, Terry said, “Mrs. Thorpe, I have something special for you. It’s one of my favorite things.”

However, Thorpe declined the gift because Terry lived in a single-parent home, and his mother was unemployed. However, Terry insisted. He reached inside the paper bag and pulled out a dirty, stuffed brown bear.

“This bear is important to me,” Terry said. “I can hold on to it, and it’s always there for me.'” Thorpe realized that “school is the ‘bear to hold’ for many students. Terry calls me once a year to thank me and ask who the ‘special bear student’ is each year.”

For Thorpe, teaching’s most rewarding aspect is “knowing that I helped a child succeed when they were struggling, whether that struggle was academically, emotionally or socially.”

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