Moody wins Golden Apple Award

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKathy Moody loves what she does, and what she does is teach.

“I have a passion for teaching. I love it. It’s the only gift God gave me,” she said.

That passion was rewarded May 29 when Moody, a Demopolis resident and former teacher in the Demopolis City Schools system, received the Golden Apple Award Teacher of the Year at ceremonies in Meridian, Ms.

This is the first year for the Golden Apple Award. It is sponsored by Partners in Education, made up of the Meridian Family of Stations, The Meridian Star and other supporters. The award recognizes outstanding educators in east Mississippi and west Alabama.

Moody teaches seventh grade math and pre-algebra at Northeast Middle School, one of the schools in the Lauderdale County system. Earlier in the year she had been named the November Teacher of the Month, nominated by 20 of her former students.

She read the letters nominating her. “They were very touching.”

Most all of the letters mentioned how much they enjoyed Moody’s classes because she made it fun to learn math. Moody said she uses different things, including songs she makes up, to keep things interesting in her class.

She demonstrated how her students remember the Pythagorean Theorem with a song and movements she set to the theme from “Gilligan’s Island.” As she makes them up, Moody keeps the songs in a file to be used again.

But Moody is firmly convinced that “kids don’t care what you know unless they know that you care.” She tries to convey that in her classroom, in addition to making learning fun.

This fall Moody will begin her 37th year of teaching. For the first 30 she was in Alabama schools, the greater part in Demopolis. When she and her husband James moved to Montgomery after she taught for 30 years, Moody began teaching at Trinity Presbyterian School.

A job offer and wanting to be with family brought the Moodys back to Demopolis, after two years, but she wasn’t ready to quit teaching. She started looking around and ended up at Meridian High School. But Moody considers herself a middle school teacher.

“My heart is in seventh and eighth grade. People ask, ‘What’s wrong with you’,” she laughed.

After a year at Meridian High she transferred to Northeast, where she has taught for three years.

When she was named Teacher of the Month in November, the principal, Billy Burnham, decided to make a big event of it. He called a special assembly and invited all the Golden Apple sponsors to attend.

When letters from her former students were read in the assembly, “I started bawling,” said Moody. Then the 20 students who nominated her stood up, and she cried even more.

The school assembly was “more exciting and emotional than the banquet because my students were there,” she said.

As Teacher of the Month Moody received $300 plus a $1,000 voucher to spend on school supplies. She got a few things for her classroom and then went down the hall asking fellow teachers what they needed.

“It’s been wonderful to fit into a group like that. Everything has been a blessing for me over there,” she said. “It’s almost embarrassing to be recognized for just doing my job.”

The Teacher of the Year Award also came with a check, this time for $2,500. It may help to pay for the gas Moody uses to travel an hour each way to school.

In Mississippi teachers are eligible for retirement after eight years. Moody will be 62 at that time. “I’ll think about it then,” she said, but as long as she is enjoying being in the classroom, she plans to continue singing silly songs about math.