Alison Humphrey: Chosen
Published 1:25 pm Monday, January 10, 2022
There is something in each of us which longs to be chosen. To be chosen means we belong, it means someone sees worth in us, it means there is something about us which is needed and wanted. Alison Humphrey decided to choose her students. Everyday she makes this choice again and again. It is very intentional, and Southland Academy and our community are better for her having made this choice. Alison teaches anatomy and biology at Southland. As with many teachers, her skills also show up in other areas of the school. She is the head swim coach and the sponsor of the Beta Club. Alison states, “Being a teacher is about being willing to remain open to continuous learning yourself. We have to find ways to be relevant (and to) apply past knowledge to new circumstances. Being a teacher means being persistent and never giving up on a kid even when they don’t believe in themselves.” Alison chooses to see the passion in the everyday.
To know Southland Academy means you know they strive for excellence on a daily and even hourly basis to produce a young adult who has the firmest of foundations throughout their years. On some days, decisions are bigger than on other days. Deciding to choose Alison Humphrey as a new hire was a big day decision and when she accepted her position as a teacher’s aide, it proved to be a fruitful investment on Southland’s behalf. In 2012, Southland would choose her again to start teaching anatomy and biology. Alison proved herself worthy of being chosen and she invested heavily into the lives of those who crossed her path. Her daily decision to choose the students of Southland Academy was seen and admired. In March 2021, her colleagues nominated her for Georgia Independent Schools Association’s (GISA) Teacher of the Year. The GISA is a membership of 170 schools. As their website describes, “Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) is a non-profit association of private, independent, and parochial schools throughout the state. The mission of GISA is to advance excellence and collaboration among Georgia’s independent schools by serving the professional growth, advocacy, and interscholastic needs of member schools. Each member school is unique, while sharing a unified commitment to overall excellence, as well as to the nurture and care of the physical, intellectual, social, and moral development of all students.” For a group with such a high calling, to pronounce a Teacher of the Year would demand a lengthy and extensive process. Drawing from her collected days of choosing to invest in her students, Alison entered into the process in March of 2021 and was hopeful to be chosen. In November of 2021, Alison bestowed yet another honor upon Southland Academy as she was chosen as the GISA Teacher of the Year.
Ty Kinslow, who served as her headmaster from 2012 to 2020 remarks on some outstanding qualities which make Alison a great choice to represent the teachers of the GISA. “Alison has exemplified the very essence of what teaching is all about. She gives her best time, effort, energy and creativity towards building relationships, teaching and communicating with her students.” Ty reports Alison’s efforts were not limited to classroom time, nor were they even limited to students. Alison could be caught during breaks, before and after school offering tutoring to many. Alison would even welcome college students who needed a little extra help in college level courses. Alison is often spotted at sports and fine art events supporting students way beyond the scope of biology and anatomy courses. The Science Chair of Southland Academy, Rosalind Gatian, describes Alison as “a teacher I would have been excited to have teaching my own children. She works tirelessly to find ways to help all her students experience success. She is a fine person of integrity and ethics.”
Alison would not be chosen on recommendations alone; she would have to let the panel of judges know a little about her approach with students. Anyone who is familiar with Alison knows she is creative and engaging in her lessons. A student gets to choose if they will invest in their education. Alison makes such a choice easy. While a textbook is a powerful thing, it is the teacher who brings them to life. Alison wants education to be an experience which each student is glad they chose to participate in. She has several creative approaches to lessons throughout the year, but she was limited to choosing her favorite. For her submission, she chose a “gender reveal party” she throws every year.
The students are in school for nine months. The gestation of a human is also nine months. Alison decided to take this and have the students learn of human development in utero. When the time came, at about 20 weeks, the class would learn what gender their “baby” was. And much like gender reveal parties, the class would find themselves caught up in the excitement of learning more. First the class would throw a baby shower. Hands of Hope Pregnancy Resource Center informs Alison’s class on the services they offer and their role in pregnancy. They also make known what they could most use to help the expectant mothers of our area. As the need was made known, gifts were bought and showered upon those families in need. Next, the reveal begins, and the science lessons are rich. Alison gives the students a cup of red cabbage juice, which will change colors to a deep blue or a hot pink depending on the acidity of the item which it is exposed to. Alison freezes little plastic babies, much like are found in Mardi Gras King Cakes, into cubes of ice made with baking soda (a base) or vinegar (an acid). The students are invited to pick up their cube. As the cube melts in the cabbage juice the water reveals the sex of the baby. As the ice melts, some of the students will find out they are having twins because there are two babies inside their cube. As with most gender reveal parties, there is a celebration, and everyone enjoys pink and blue sweets.
The students will continue to track the development of the fetus and report out on the progress being made week by week until the both the end of the pregnancy as well as the end of the school term. This project is done in real time, with real life lessons. While a pregnancy is far from an everyday thing from those experiencing one, it is something that happens every day. By making it personal to each student, Alison has found a way to make education literally come to life.
Alison didn’t start out wanting to be a teacher. She graduated Mercer University having thought she would go into physical therapy. However, after she had her oldest, Tanner, and quickly thereafter, her youngest, Taylor, she had a strong desire to be a stay-at-home mom. She would play this role until her children entered school. She, likewise, would enter school as a teacher’s aide. She says God has chosen this path for her, and in looking back, she can see how the seeds were planted for her to become a teacher. She is confident, that for today, she is right where she is meant to be, living with purpose, having been chosen to educate others.
Being chosen is powerful. We take much pride and even relief in being chosen. Being chosen says, “Job well done!” While she was chosen as GISA’s teacher of the year, Alison has been chosen more than a few times. Clint Humphrey, Southland’s Assistant Headmaster and Athletic Director chose Alison as his bride. Her son Tanner, and her daughter Taylor, choose to honor Alison as their mother. Southland chooses her everyday since they first chose her as a teacher’s aide. Alison’s students choose to invest in what she offers on a regular basis. Alison is confident God chose her to be exactly where she is, doing exactly what she is doing. Yes, being chosen is important. To be invited to a place designed specifically with you in mind? That is the stuff which makes a soul sing. Congratulations Alison, you most certainly belong in the seat of honor. We are pleased you, Clint, Tanner and Taylor choose to make us your neighbors. It is, in fact, our honor.