Amara Alexander, a sixth-grade science teacher at Horizon Elementary School in Madison, Alabama, presents students with a smorgasbord of cross-curricular learning opportunities. During a unit on weather disasters, students read Ninth Ward, a young adult novel about Hurricane Katrina. Alexander's students at the K-6 school build rollercoasters, putting their knowledge of physics to use as they collaborate to determine the optimal slopes of the tracks at different intervals. In Amara's class, Earth Day is always celebrated, and students learn about science by dancing, singing, writing songs, researching, designing, building, and teaching their peers.
Alexander, whose students post some of the district's highest scores on assessments, often lets students do the teaching while she facilitates the discussion. She builds organizational skills into her class procedures, coaching students on note-taking. By using daily targets, guiding questions and an inquiry-based approach, Alexander keeps students engaged in the process and promotes important skills like critical thinking and problem-solving. For English Language Learners (ELLs), Alexander deftly differentiates curriculum, providing appropriately-leveled materials and grouping students to support the ELLs' participation in discussions and experiments. Her classroom offers a nurturing, well-managed and structured environment. Students and parents alike respect Alexander's commitment to excellence and ability to generate excitement among her future scientists and engineers.
Alexander builds positive relationships with all stakeholders, inviting families, colleagues and administrators to participate in classroom activities with her students. She is active in Project Lead the Way, leads Horizon's science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) efforts, and directs the school's extended-day program. Alexander presented at the Gulf Coast Writing Conference and Madison City Professional Development Day, attended the Honeywell Educators at Space Academy, and serves on Horizon's Leader in Me Lighthouse team and Technology Committee. As a GEMS (Growing and Empowering Myself Successfully) program advisor, Alexander mentors teenage girls, facilitates college tours, teaches resumé-writing, and involves girls in community service. A longtime girl scout, Alexander is a cadet leader and meets weekly with middle-school girls to discuss issues such as bullying, advocacy, budgeting, and time management.
Alexander is a graduate of Alabama A&M University. She earned a Bachelor and Master of Science in elementary education in 2007 and 2010 respectively.
"When I think of teachers who have impacted my educational journey, I don't recall the assignments given, the tests or quizzes. I..." (read more)