Lauri Elam is Jacksonville High School “2019 Teacher of the Year”
Lauri Elam’s passion for teaching history and her love for her students is what earned her the top teaching honor this year at Jacksonville High School. Elam is a second time recipient of “Teacher of the Year” chosen by her peers and was the 2007-2008 “Teacher of the Year” as well. She has also recently been recognized as “Teacher of the Month” by Alabama Teachers Credit Union of Calhoun County.
Elam is in her 15th year at Jacksonville High School. She teaches ninth and eleventh grade history, and AP history. Elam is a 1980 graduate of Saks High School. She graduated from Jacksonville State University in 1984, then transitioned to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte earning her master’s degree in history. Before coming to JHS, Elam taught at Piedmont for ten years and Anniston for two years. She originally thought she would be a lawyer but her love for history and young people changed all that. She is married to Bob, who is a local landscape designer and they have two children, Bryan, who works at JSU and Anna, who is a student at UAB majoring in neuroscience. They attend St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Her hobbies include hiking, reading, walking, just being outdoors. “Yoga is my passion,” says Elam. “I do a thirty-minute session every morning. I also enjoy spending time with my family. We like to go hiking.”
When asked how she feels about her recent honor Elam says, “I am very humbled. There are so many good teachers here at JHS. I’m truly honored to be recognized by my peers in this way.”
"Mrs. Elam is a highly effective teacher with the gift of reaching students of varying abilities. Her regular and advanced history students describe her as a phenomenal teacher with a way of getting content across to the students, so they enjoy and gain a better understanding of it. Her Advanced Placement (AP) history students consistently meet or surpass the global average on AP exams. She is definitely an asset to the students of Jacksonville High School, and the fact that students clamor to get into her classes is a wonderful testimony. We all congratulate Mrs. Elam on this well-deserved honor,” stated JHS Principal Russ Waits. JHS student Claire Hendrickson says, “Mrs. Elam’s passion for history is contagious, and her students can feel her genuine love for them. I have never felt more individually recognized and loved by a teacher. Each student has their own personal connection with Mrs. Elam in her class.”
When asked what her favorite thing about her job is, Elam said that it is without a doubt the STUDENTS. “They are what keeps me coming back year after year. I love working with teenagers. Getting their perspectives and different personalities on what we are doing. Knowing that they walk out of here with a little knowledge, and the fact that I have helped them in any way is very rewarding. They are all unique and special in their own way.” As far as future plans, Elam said she would like to “just keep doing what I love; teaching history. As for now, I really enjoy teaching and interacting with the students.”
Thank you, Lauri Elam, for being such a wonderful role model for our children, instilling in them the passion for learning and truly making a difference in their lives.
Photo & Story by Anita Kilgore