Minden High School Principal Robin Tucker thinks highly of Special Education teacher Becky Bays, which is why Tucker nominated her for KSLA News 12's Golden Apple Award.
"I was forwarded the information for the 'Golden Apple' award from our central office. After reading the requirements, I knew that I had several teachers that would meet the criteria," Tucker said. "I nominated Mrs. Becky Bays because I have had the opportunity to work with her for eight years and her passion for what she does has never diminished, even in spite of all of the changes that public education has seen in recent years.
"She has a sincere desire to see her students succeed and she does not allow them to make excuses," Tucker continued. "I have always seen her strive to seek creative ways to deliver instruction to her students, and I felt that she would be an ideal candidate for this recognition."
Bays was shown yesterday on KSLA News 12 receiving the 'Golden Apple Award,' sponsored by Kirby Kelly. The segment airs weekly on Wednesdays at 5 p.m.
"I was notified by KSLA on Tuesday afternoon that Mrs. Bays would receive $500 to use for her class," Tucker said. "I was told not to tell her as they wanted it to be a surprise. Mr. Kelly and a film crew arrived at MHS and Mrs. Bays was completely surprised and had no idea. It was so much fun to see. The students were thrilled and very proud of their teacher."
While students, faculty and administrators are proud of Mrs. Bays, she is proud of Minden High in return.
"I am a huge supporter of Minden High School," Bays said. "I really believe in our students and in this school. I go to games, coach golf and whatever I need to do to show the students 'Hey, I believe in you and I'm going to help you succeed.'"
In addition to the Golden Apple award, Bays will use $250 from the Webster Parish School Board, which is money set aside for each teacher to use in their classroom, so she can purchase a SMART Board.
"We have wanted a SMART Board for sometime," Bays said. "When I received the award, that was the first thing that came to my mind. So I went to the school board office and met with Superintendent (Steve) Dozier about what I had in mind."
It was at that time Bays learned the cost of a SMART Board, which has a list price of $3,953, was more than the amount she had to spend.
"I left thinking, 'Well, maybe something will work out,' but I was not expecting it to," Bays said.
However, a representative from DETEL was meeting at the Central Office to discuss Doyline School's purchase of SMART Boards (to be paid with funds from Doyline's Bond).
"I was asked to speak with the representative from DETEL and something might be worked out," Bays said. "And DETEL said not only could they make it happen, but they would get me the best board for my class."
Bays had hoped a board could be modified to better serve the needs of her special education students.
"They said they had a board that works for visually-impaired students by cutting down most of the glare, and there is a component of a pointer which will help my students with mobility challenges," she said. "This is going to change how I use instructional time and allow the students to do more."
Putting focus on students' actions and participation is part of Bays' new classroom management plan.
"With all the changes that came from the state this year, we decided we would take them and benefit from them," Bays said. "We are a student-driven classroom. We want to push our kids to achieve all they can. A lot of time special education students get put in a category of 'can't learn,' but they can.
"Our class learns at a different rate and in different ways, but they do learn. We achieve a lot and that is why this is my passion," she continued.
Bays said people are lucky when they have jobs they like or love, but she feels she is more privileged.
"I get to live my passion every day," she said. "This is more than just something I love. This is my passion. Seeing what these students achieve – it is amazing and I wouldn't want to do anything else."