Longtime teacher’s kids push her to reinvent herself

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NEW HOPE, Ala. (WHNT) - After 27 years in a classroom, you might expect a teacher to lose interest.

Not Wendy Neff though.

She's dedicated to bettering herself for the sake of her children and that's why she's a WHNT News 19 "Tools for Teachers" award-winner.

Neff was "really surprised" when WHNT News 19 cameras showed up recently, accompanied by Adam Hampton, Asst. Principal at New Hope Elementary School.

Neff's 4th grade students burst into applause as Hampton declared that his longtime employee would get $319 to use in her classroom.

A former colleague nominated Neff for her commitment, not just in the classroom but outside it as well. Neff has taken summer professional development courses and also volunteers at Burritt on the Mountain's Living History Museum.

"It really does make you feel good that somebody appreciates that," Neff said. "The students and what they're expected to do has really ramped up; it's much higher than what we did when we were in school. They're much more capable than we were at this age."

Neff tells WHNT News 19 that challenge keeps her motivated and looking for fresh ways to mold the learning environment.

"When they ask questions, when they get something... the lightbulb comes on. That's so rewarding," Neff said.

She plans to use the money to buy some new flash drives and maybe some new books as well.