Anchorage Wal-Mart on behalf of Wal-Mart Foundation
SEWARD, Alaska, Oct. 1, 2007 – Wal-Mart today announced that Laura Beck, an eighth-grade teacher at Seward Middle School has been named Teacher of the Year in Alaska in the 12th annual Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club State Teacher of the Year program. Beck, a classroom teacher for 25 years, was honored at a special surprise ceremony at the school, and in her honor the school received a $10,000 grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation.
“This award is to recognize those teachers who go the extra mile for their students and instill a love of learning long after graduation,” said Marty Howard, Anchorage Wal-Mart store manager. “The associates at our store honored Ms. Beck as a local Teacher of the Year winner in May, and we are so proud that she is being recognized as a state winner.”
Beck teaches Language Arts, U.S. History and Art to middle-schoolers, an engaging group whose lives, as their teacher describes, can be “running smoothly one moment and totally crash in on them the next, for no apparent reason.” Beck, the mother of three children who have fairly recently navigated the highs and lows of the middle school experience, is also a successful soccer and volleyball coach at both the middle school and high school levels. She volunteers in the community after school and in the summer and she even took on the job of volunteer librarian at Seward Middle School, enlisting the help of her students to help find creative ways of putting books on the shelves when a new library was built but budget restraints prevented the school from buying a single book.
In addition to receiving a $10,000 grant for the school, Beck also received a personalized Teacher of the Year leather tote, a crystal apple trophy, business cards, a Teacher of the Year certificate and a one-year membership to Phi Delta Kappa International, a professional education association and Wal-Mart’s partner in the State Teacher of the Year program. Representatives from PDK selected Beck from among teachers throughout Alaska for her contributions to the field of education and to her school.
Wal-Mart’s Teacher of the Year program is one of the largest teacher recognition efforts in the country, giving back more than $5 million this year alone to the schools of winning teachers. Since the Teacher of the Year program began in 1995, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has honored nearly 30,000 teachers nationwide and donated more than $22 million to local schools. In 2006, the company provided more than $57 million in support of educational initiatives.
The Teacher of the Year program begins each February when each Wal-Mart store, Sam’s Club, Neighborhood Market and distribution center accepts nominations from their community – parents, educators and school children – for local “Teacher of the Year” honors. Nominations are compiled and each of the company’s 4,000-plus locations surprises a local teacher with a $1,000 donation to their school in their honor during National Teacher Appreciation Week in May.
Local winners have the option to complete a comprehensive application form for the state winner phase to be reviewed by PDK. All 51 state winners, as well as a winner from Puerto Rico, are now being announced and will automatically be considered for the national Teacher of the Year award to be announced in November.
“Teachers today face many challenges as they work to educate our children," said Dr. William Bushaw, executive director of Phi Delta Kappa. “Wal-Mart’s Teacher of the Year program gives the winning teachers recognition for a job well done and for making a difference in their students’ lives.”
How Winners Were Selected
According to Bushaw, several criteria were used to evaluate the applications and determine the winners. Applicants answered four essay questions; judges gave each answer a numerical score.
1. What do you consider to be your greatest contribution to students?
2. What self-initiated practices, programs or projects have you implemented to produce a high level of student achievement?
3. What do you consider to be the most critical issue in education that affects students? How do you attempt to respond to this and inform others of the importance of this issue?
4. At what level and degree are you involved in community volunteer work? Describe how your involvement has influenced your teaching and impacted your community at the local and state level and beyond.
Applicants also submitted a current resume and two letters of recommendation – one from an immediate supervisor and one from a colleague, a community member, a student’s parent or a student.
About Phi Delta Kappa International
PDK International is an association of education professionals committed to high-quality education, with particular emphasis on publicly supported education, as essential to the development and maintenance of a democratic way of life. The work of the organization is grounded in the tenets of research, service, and leadership. Founded in 1906, PDK represents educators at all levels of the profession and supports their work through publications, advocacy, research, and professional development opportunities. Member chapters are active throughout the United States, Canada, and abroad. Visit www.pdkintl.org to learn more about PDK International.
About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT)
Every week, millions of customers visit Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Club locations across America or log on to its online store at www.walmart.com. The company and its Foundation are committed to a philosophy of giving back locally. Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) is proud to support the causes that are important to customers and associates right in their own neighborhoods, and last year gave more than $270 million to local communities in the United States. To learn more, visit www.walmartfacts.com, www.walmartstores.com, or www.walmartfoundation.org.