McKenzie’s Buckelew named Teacher of the Year

Published 3:43 pm Friday, April 26, 2013

It is often said that a great teacher is one that makes herself progressively unnecessary, but one teacher at McKenzie School has proven invaluable to the system in two short years.

English teacher Wanda Buckelew has been named Alabama Secondary Teacher of the Year for District 1, which includes Butler, Crenshaw, Covington, Escambia and Baldwin counties.

Buckelew, who has served as an educator for 27 years, said that this was the first award of its kind that she had ever been presented, but it’s one that she is thankful for nonetheless.

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“As teachers we get so much more often than anything else, especially from the outside world, there’s the view that we’re not doing everything right,” Buckelew said. “So it’s nice to have things like this where we are encouraged to do our best and are rewarded for having done that.”

The Alabama Teacher of the Year award is one of the oldest and most prestigious titles an educator can receive, with a strict selection process requiring evaluation across multiple tiers at the local, district and state level.

Nominees must provide their philosophy of teaching, resume, letters of recommendation from former students and parents, and then prepare a DVD of his or her teaching for evaluation at the state level of the competition.

Despite the somewhat arduous process, or perhaps because of it, Buckelew added that being recognized among so many other deserving educators within the system was an honor in and of itself.

But the true reward has come from forming a close-knit bond with other teachers at McKenzie for the past couple of years.

“I think we all work well together.  We try to help each other out, and we complement each other in what we do,” Buckelew said. “And if we need help, we’ve always got the other person to depend on.  I think small schools have that — we’re more like a family.”

McKenzie School principal Randy Williams said that Buckelew’s recognition is the school’s first Teacher of the Year winner.

But the bigger honor, he added, was having her on the McKenzie School staff.

“Mrs. Buckelew is a well-organized teacher.  I gave her the senior class sponsorship, which is a big responsibility,” Williams said. “She went right in with it and has done a great job with that sponsorship.  She’s really like the mother of the senior class.  She’s a hard worker in the classroom, the kids like her, and she’s just been a real good fit for McKenzie School.”