Belgreen Teacher of the Year Emily Blanton
By Bernie Moussad for the FCT
Emily Blanton, of Belgreen High School, has had quite the successful school year, and to top it all off, she received the Franklin County Educator of the Year Award.
She was born in Russellville and attended Belgreen High School from kindergarten through 12th grade. After graduating from Belgreen in 2000, she received an academic scholarship from Northwest-Shoals Community College, where she pursued a degree in elementary education. After graduating from Northwest, she attended Athens State University in pursuit of her degree, which she obtained after graduating in May 2004.
“While attending both colleges, I worked part time at Mars Hill Preschool in Russellville, where I made many wonderful memories,” said Blanton. After her graduation, she worked at “Camp Catch-up,” which helped students in grades 4-12 “catch up” in any subjects they were struggling with.
She would later go on to become a teacher for her alma mater.
“In August 2004, I was employed by Franklin County Schools as the distance learning aide at Belgreen High School. During the morning hours, I also taught 13 fourth grade students who needed extra help with language arts,” Blanton said. “At Christmas of that year, I was hired as a full time fourth grade teacher, alongside the only other fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Dianna Bray. I have taught fourth grade ever since then, just completing my 12th year, and I can’t believe how fast time has passed.”
She also went back to college to get her master’s degree in elementary education from the University of West Alabama.
When it comes to her classroom, Blanton said she tries her best to make learning as enjoyable as possible. With many of the “common core standards and testing,” it becomes difficult to make learning fun for the kids, but Blanton incorporates games and hands-on learning into her daily plans.
She also tries to take personal time with the students. She said she believes addressing a student’s behavior, “taking a break for movement” or even “mourning the death of a pet” are the most important things “you can do for and with your students.”
This past school year has been slightly challenging for her. She started the year with 26 students and ended it with 29. “With the help of other faculty and administrators, we made it through just fine.” She had a few students “who will always have a special place in my heart.”
Upon receiving the news that she had been selected as the Franklin County Educator of the Year, Blanton was in shock. She couldn’t believe that she had been selected for such a prestigious honor. “I was so humbled that someone nominated me and then I was chosen out of all the wonderful educators in Franklin County who were much more deserving than I felt I was,” said Blanton.
Even after the start of the summer holidays, Blanton is still making plans for what she wants to achieve next school year. “I want to be better organized and mentally prepared to handle a large number of kids if that situation arises again, and that leads to another goal, which is to spend less time staying after school to catch up on things like grading papers, cleaning, etcetera,” she said. She wants to be able to get her classroom in shape quickly in order to spend more time with her family in the evenings. She also wants to be more focused on thoroughly teaching her fourth graders and “not be as distracted by other extracurricular clubs and activities” that she has helped with in the past.
Blanton said she feels blessed to work in “the best school in the world with some of the best faculty and staff that you could find anywhere.” She said she feels that being a teacher is a rewarding job and thanks God each day for allowing her to do “something that I love so much.”
The principal of Belgreen High School, Myra Frederick, spoke positively about Blanton. “She’s a wonderful person and a wonderful teacher,” Frederick said. “She tries to be a really effective teacher to her students. She’s founded and sponsored our fishing teams and has taken time out of her afternoons and weekends to help them. She’s just all around a great person and teacher.”
One parent loved the experience that her son had in Blanton’s fourth grade class so much that she nominated her for the WHNT-TV 19 Tools for Teachers contest. “She challenges the students to think out of the box and encourages them to do their best. She has great classroom control, and the students respect her, which is rare to find in today’s world, especially when teaching in a larger classroom,” the nominating parent said.