December 2016 Winner - Leslie Lum:(West Lauderdale Elementary School)


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Meridian Star Article

West Lauderdale Elementary teacher Leslie Lum was surprised with an early Christmas present when she was named December’s Golden Apple winner during the school's Christmas program.

Lum, who teaches second grade at the school, said when she heard her name called she was both excited and shocked.

"I feel very honored to have received this award," Lum said. "I feel like I have achieved a goal and I am doing something right in the classroom. I feel like I have become the kind of teacher that is there for my students.

Rosemary Harris, the school's principal, said the award is well-deserved.

"I was just ecstatic when they called and told me she had won," Harris said. "We were so excited and it was so well deserved. She is just one of those teachers that will go above and beyond what is necessary. We really appreciate the effort she gives."

Lum's husband, Matt, said it was a tremendous honor for his wife to win the Golden Apple Award.

"It is a reflection of all the hard work she has put in over the years and the experiences she’s had with the kids," he said.

Fellow teacher Leah Todd and friend Britney Pippen both agreed Lum deserved the award.

"She goes above and beyond for her students even on the weekend always talking about things she can do," Todd said. "Those kids are always on her mind she does whatever she can do to motivate them."

"She is a loving, caring teacher who does everything she can for her students," Pippen said. "She is an all around great teacher and gives a hundred percent in everything she does."

A change of heart

Lum said when she was in elementary school she wanted to become an art teacher, but because of one teacher’s inspiration, she had a change of heart.

"I was struggling with a subject and he sat down and tutored me," Lum said. "He even bought a program to help me get better with the subject I was taking. So, that just made me want to be that kind of teacher who would go into the classroom to help my students achieve academically."

Lum said her favorite thing about teaching is being with the students.

"I love to teach them new things and make them feel excited about coming to school," Lum said. "It makes me so excited when they grasp something. I give them a high five and one time I danced in the classroom because it makes me so happy when they finally get it – and I am the one that helped them achieve it."

Her advice for new teachers: Communication with students and parents is essential.

"Let them know when their child has achieved something, and praise the student for it," Lum said. "Make your parents feel welcome in the classroom. Be there for the students and help them achieve their goals.

"I bring a lot of hands-on in the classroom. I am not the type to just sit at a desk and do a worksheet."

Lum said there is never a perfect day at school – as a teacher, there are ups and downs, but at the end of the day, she knows she did her best to help her students achieve their goals.

Lum received a laptop and desktop computer, as well as a Teacher of the Month Certificate, $300 cash award, and $150 donation to her adopt a Classroom account.