VFW – American Legion honors Breeden as ‘Teacher of the Year’
MADISON – Michelle Breeden at Liberty Middle School has received the honor of “Teacher of the Year” from VFW – American Legion Post 273 in Huntsville.
Erin Coggins at Sparkman High School nominated Breeden, who wasn’t aware until the VFW contacted her. “Erin Coggins was last year’s VFW Teacher of the Year. I was very humbled that she felt I had qualifications to represent this award,” Breeden said.
Formerly a Sparkman teacher, Breeden has worked at Liberty since 2006 and currently teaches eighth-grade world history/pre-advanced placement. She sponsors Beta Club and is assistant athletic director. Until 2017, she coached girls’ soccer and has sponsored dance and competition cheer teams.
Breeden earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Alabama and a master’s degree in educational practice and theory from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. She achieved National Board Certified Teacher or NBCT status in early adolescence social studies in 2017.
Breeden is a Madison native. She was recruited to return to the area to teach. Breeden always thought she would be a high school teacher, but Liberty Principal Sally Bruker offered her a job. Breeden realized almost immediately she had found her place.
“I had the most amazing teachers here in Madison,” Breeden said. She will never forget mentor Rhonda Durrett, who embraced Breeden as a young, energetic, over-the-top individual and molded into the educator she is today.
Durrett’s guidance, patience and encouragement helped Breeden with courage to try crazy ideas, continue her education and embrace who she was as a teacher. Durrett taught Breeden everything from presenting lessons in the most engaging manner to establishing relationships with students that will last forever.
“Rhonda became my ‘mama.’ Even 14 years later, I still go to her for advice,” Breeden said. “Rhonda is retiring this year. I’m struggling with the thought that one of the best teachers in the world and my ‘mama’ won’t be in the building.”
Breeden considers her students as unforgettable. “They embrace my ‘crazy,’ which includes a guillotine in my classroom (and decor like ‘Friends’ sitcom). They challenge me to never settle for good when it can be great,” she said. “Students in Madison are the best in the state and nation. I’m humbled and honored by each single one.”
In volunteering, she fundraises for Wreaths Across America. Her husband David Breeden works as a Senior Analyst at Sierra Nevada Corporation. Their son Liam is 2.5 years old.