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Garner in Sweet Sixteen for state’s top teacher

MADISON – Thomasena Garner at Liberty Middle School has been selected in the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ for Alabama Teacher of the Year.

Gardener teaches seventh-grade life science at Liberty She recently started instructing a new curriculum for “Medical Detectives,” affiliated with Project Lead the Way.

Garner was selected at Madison City School’s 2016 Secondary Teacher of the Year. That title qualified her for consideration in the evaluation for the state’s most outstanding teacher.

MCS Superintendent Robby Parker acknowledged Garner’s success and congratulated her at Madison Board of Education’s April 20 meeting.

Garner has taught for 10 years at Liberty. In recent months, she initiated a new classroom approach “to make writing (and reading) in science as natural as in English/language arts or social science,” she said in a previous interview. As the year progressed, Garner’s students were more at ease and began to understand writing’s importance in all subjects, especially STEM or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Instead of avoiding the challenge, Garner enjoys the troublesome years for students in middle school. “I enjoy going through this journey with students,” Garner said. “It’s important I meet each student where they are and get them past where they need to be for eighth grade.”

For seven years, Garner coached Liberty Dance Team, winner of numerous awards and four regional and three national titles. She stepped down to assist the athletic director.

Among her teachers, Garner will always remember Dr. Ruby Jewel, who pushed her through undergraduate/graduate school. “She never let me get away with doing just enough. I’ll never forget (when) she gave me a lower grade than what I had earned. Dr. Jewel said if I saw an A on my paper, I wouldn’t work as hard.”

Jewel has even visited Garner twice at Liberty. “I hope to someday impact someone’s life the same way she made an impact on mine,” Garner said.

At Alabama A&M University, Garner earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology education. At Middle Tennessee State University, she received an educational specialist’s degree. She soon plans to pursue a doctorate’s degree in science.

A pet lover, Garner owns Dash, a Chihuahua, and Chase, a Jack Russell.

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