2 killed, dozens injured when bus from Huntsville crashes in Mississippi

Guntersville teacher mixes heart with hands-on learning

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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)- This week's Tools for Teachers award winner is Barbara Boyles, a science teacher at Guntersville High School.  Like many of our award winners, Ms. Boyles came to teaching a little later in life.  She's been a chemist and owned her own business-experiences she brings with her into the classroom-but being a parent may have influenced her teaching style even more.

Ms. Boyles is known for creative hands-on learning when it comes to teaching science, but it's her peer-mentoring class where here maternal side gets to shine. The concept is simple: Pair struggling students with other students who can provide them with academic support.  Under Ms. Boyles' guidance, it's a technique that's valuable to all involved.

This approach has had an especially profound impact on 9th-grader Samantha Miller.  She nominated Ms. Boyles for this honor.

"We call her the mom of the school, because if you make a bad grade she jumps on us," Samantha said. "So, she’s our mom at school."

To say thanks, we, along with Samantha and Guntersville High School principal Roseanne Mabrey, surprised Ms. Boyles in her classroom with $319 to spend on teaching supplies.  The stunned teacher was excited about the cash, but the greatest reward was knowing that it was a student who nominated her.

Ms. Boyles' path to teaching was an interesting one. She originally just wanted to learn how to better teach her own children at home but ultimately fell in love with the job.

"I actually went to school so I could teach them and found this was my passion," Boyles told us. "It was just my passion. It was what I should have been doing my whole life."

The moral of this story isn't a novel one: Earning a nice salary doesn't necessarily make a job worthwhile.

"I had a job. I had a paycheck," Boyles said. "But that was all it was.  And this... every day I go home feeling like I've done something right."

And that feeling was especially true on this day.

"It makes me realize that it does matter what I do...that people need what I give them, and that makes everything worthwhile."

If you know a worthy teacher, coach, principal, or aide, tell us about them through the Tools for Teachers nomination form.