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Seeing students as rewards, Word selected Midtown’s ‘Teacher of the Year’

MADISON – At the end of the 2023-2024 school year, Allyson Word was excited about her retirement plans. That excitement heightened when her peers voted for her as 2024 “Teacher of the Year.”

After one year with kindergarten, Word has taught third-graders for 29 years. “If you can teach a child to read at an early age, anything is possible,” she said.

“Teaching children to read is an achievement all on its own,” Word said. “I want to teach (students) that they can discover the world through a book.”

Because of her struggle with reading, one of Word’s students never participated in class. “She just needed a little extra encouragement. We worked together for months — I read, she read and we read together. I finally began to see a change in her,” Word said.

The student was gaining confidence and reading became easier. Learning became fun, and she accepted the challenge, Word said.

One day, this student asked for permission to read to a younger student. “She was like a flickering candle that burst into flame. When school ended last year, she came to me and said, ‘Thank you for helping me read . . . I get it now! I hope I grow up to be just like you.’”

Word has never received a higher compliment. “My rewards have always been my students and their accomplishments,” she said.

Since 1994, Word has taught in Madison City Schools – 27 years at West Madison Elementary School and Midtown, three years.

In her teaching philosophy, Word believes all children can learn, regardless of the child’s background. “The ability is always there. We, the teachers, need to make them flourish. I expect my students to learn.”

Word never wants students to think they aren’t capable of learning. “I’m not a strict disciplinarian, but I try to follow a strict schedule with high expectations,” she said. Her top priority is the children’s understanding that she loves them unconditionally and will always be there for them, no matter what.

Word graduated from Jacksonville State University with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.

Her husband, Clark Word, works in sales at Schwarze Industries. Their children, Jacob and Morgan, both attended West Madison, Discovery Middle School, Bob Jones High School and Auburn University. “I have a daughter-in-law, Kaitlyn Williams Word, a new granddaughter, Saylor, and soon-to-be son-in-law, Ethan Gannuch,” Allyson said.

“I can honestly say that I haven’t cooked a meal in about 20 years, but I love to bake,” Allyson said. “I love to read, the pool and beach, and I’m obsessed with gnomes!”

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