Stewart wins Alfa honor

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 27, 2005

For nearly 35 years, Janis Stewart has been devoted to educating young children about the wonders of nature and science.

As principal of Meadowview Elementary School, she has made tremendous strides in getting children excited about math, science and reading through innovative environmental programs.

A long time lover of the environment, Stewart turned the school’s grounds into a hands-on learning center where students can grow plants in a greenhouse, study insects and animals, and learn to respect nature.

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Stewart’s down-to-earth approach to education, along with her drive and enthusiasm, has made her a stand out in the Selma City School System and across the state.

Both Stewart and Meadowview have been honored with numerous awards over the years.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources certified the school as an official Outdoor Classroom.

Last month, the school received the state’s W. Kelly Mosely Environmental Award for achievement in forestry, wildlife and related resources.

“Our Earth Day program has received local, state and national recognition,” Stewart said.

Along with receiving Alabama’s 2005 National Distinguished Principal Award, Stewart recently added another recognition to her growing list of achievements.

On Wednesday, Stewart was named the Alfta Insurance Teacher of the Month, for which she received $1,000 from Alfa Insurance and Meadowview received a matching award from the Alabama Farmers Federation.

Stewart said the funds the school received from the Alabama Farmers Federation would be used to further enhance the instructional programs at Meadowview.

“I’m always pleased that others recognize the hard work of Meadowview’s teachers, faculty and students,” Stewart said. “All of our success is due to that hard work.”

Dr. James Carter, superintendent of Selma City Schools, said Stewart’s work helps “bring pride to the school system.”

“It’s an honor to have such a distinguished leader in our school system,” Carter said. “It proves the high quality of education we have here in Selma.”

Sam Givhan, president of the Dallas County Farmer’s Federation, also praised Meadowview staff for their success in teaching environmental education.

“We want to recognize schools that teach excellence and promote farmer’s education,” he said.

In 1971, Stewart began teaching language arts, science and mathematics to fourth- and fifth-graders in Linden.

Stewart joined the Selma City Schools in 1984 as a sixth-grade teacher.

Before becoming principal of Meadowview Elementary, Stewart was a member of the School Support Team for the state Department of Education, where she worked with faculty and administration of schools on “caution” and “alert” status.

Stewart’s success at Meadowview can be partly attributed to her involvement in actively seeking out parents and businesses to help improve the educational experience of her students.

“It takes everyone in the community to create an education program,” said Stewart during Wednesday’s presentation.

The benefits from Stewart’s efforts can be seen in Meadowview’s students and teachers.

“We’re having more fun teaching, and our children have fallen in love with school,” said Meadowview teacher Louise Wood.