Teacher inspires young readers, while facing challenge at home

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LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - There's so much more to her story, than what you see in the classroom.

That's how one local mom described a Tennessee Valley educator, as she nominated her for WHNT News 19's Tools for Teachers award.

Krystal Harrison said Amy Mayfield's commitment to her son has made a huge difference in his ability to read and was eager to show us when we joined Harrison in surprising Mayfield with $319 in cash to use in her classroom.

The Rogers Elementary school teacher knows a thing or two about helping kids learn to read. The long time educator has spent decades coaching little children and she also knows that parental involvement is key to success.

That's one reason why, at the start of the school year, Mayfield had all the parents of her Title One students meet.

"She had a meeting for the Kindergarten parents," Harrison explained, "And she let the parents make flash cards."

Harrison said those cards, along with a detailed lesson plan that helps parents know what their children will be doing every week, have been instrumental in helping her son Bryant Hunter, gain confidence.

When we met Hunter in the principal's office, just before our big surprise, he was excited to read from his flashcard set, rattling off words like "The, To and Them" with ease.

When the moment came to enter Mayfield's classroom, the teacher was overjoyed. "Look boys and girls we can buy some new colored pencils!" Mayfield exclaimed, while showing her students the cash prize.

Here's what makes Mayfield's story even more amazing though; without ever wavering in her classroom commitment, the teacher has been helping somebody at home for years.

Her own husband, beloved local coach Steve Mayfield, was diagnosed with cancer ten years ago. He beat it; only to be diagnosed with ALS.

"He just remains so positive and that helps us to be able to go on every day," Mayfield shared.

Harrison said Steve Mayfield was her own teacher back in the day and, knowing how difficult it must be for Amy to see him decline, the teacher's dedication in class is even more impressive.

"She just puts it behind her when she gets to school. She knows that those kids are first," Harrison said.

The children know it too.


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