Morgan Teacher of Year, now vibrant, was shy in high school
By Bayne Hughes
PRICEVILLE — Maria Young says her former Austin High School classmates wouldn’t recognize her now if they saw her teaching in her Priceville Elementary classroom.
Having a career she loves brought out the personality she hid so many years ago. It’s this personality and love for teaching that earned her Morgan County Schools’ 2007 Elementary Teacher of the Year honors.
Principal Ann Knowlton said Young is an active teacher, leading her students through hands-on activities that she tries to make fun and interesting. She’s also known as the jokester of the staff.
But Young said she wasn’t always this way.
“I was just very quiet and shy,” the 1977 Austin graduate said. “I rarely said a word in school.”
She carried this shyness to college, but then something happened when she got her first job 25 years ago at Eva School. She spent three years there before transferring to Priceville.
“I don’t know what it is,” Young said. “The children just bring something out of me. Education is my passion. It’s wonderful getting up every morning when you know you’re going to a job you love.”
Young said her students often take on this outgoing personality, which is good when they’re eager to learn. That can, however, make it difficult for a substitute.
“I tell them not to expect my students to sit quietly at their desks and do busy work,” she said. “My kids like to learn, they like to talk and they’re an active bunch.”
Young spent 12 years teaching kindergarten, but really found her niche in third grade. She particularly loves hands-on science.
“I try to make it exciting, and they love it. They learn a lot more than just reading it out of a textbook,” she said.
This passion for teaching makes it easy for Young to throw herself into her work. She volunteered to turn a classroom into a science lab. She sponsors the robotics club, spending hours one night last week researching ways to build a robot to enter in a contest at the McWane Center in Birmingham.
While many teachers go on summer vacation, she’s attending professional development seminars and she’s a trainer for the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative.
She hates staying at home “because that means doing housework.”
With all of this going on in her career, it’s not a surprise that she expends a lot of energy in the classroom.
“Some days are exhausting, and I collapse when I get home, but I love it so much,” Young said.
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