Alexander City Science Teacher is a Class Act

"I love it when a light comes on and the students finally understand a concept," says Sharon Brantley. She's been turning on student light bulbs at Benjamin Russell High School since 1985.

9th grader Brandi Broughton says, "really I'm not a science person, but the way Mrs. Brantley teaches me it's very interesting."

Brantley goes extra lengths to help kids understand scientific concepts. Sometimes students teach each other. That helps both the learner and the peer instructor. 11th grader Kyle Marable says, "you know it's been awhile since I actually had the class, been in it; but as I go back through it, it helps me remember what's going on and it helps me in other math classes that I'm currently taking."

This year Brantley has started something called 'mastery learning' in her classroom. "We're trying to get away from passing just being acceptable, but students actually mastering the content of a course before moving on," says principal Dr. Tommy Bice.

Emily Clark is a fellow teacher, who is a former student of Brantley's. Clark says Brantley, "she is part of the reason why I decided to go into teaching and into the science field. She got me interested in science, she was very open with me and honest about my career choices and I was able to talk to her about that."

Brantley says that type of influence reinforces how crucial teachers can be to students. "What I do is important, it does mean something, that I can impact the students' lives in a number of ways. Not only in helping them to understand science, but in just helping them to understand life."

Brantley is a co-sponsor of Russell's national honor society. Last year the chamber of commerce selected her as the school system's teacher of the year.