Cook named high school Teacher of the Year

Published 9:27 am Monday, December 30, 2013

Montevallo High was recently named Shelby County School System's High School Teacher of the Year. (contributed)

Montevallo High was recently named Shelby County School System’s High School Teacher of the Year. (contributed)

By MICHELLE ADAMS/Community columnist

For the second consecutive year, Montevallo schools have been home to a Shelby County Teacher of the Year. Last year’s recipient was chorus teacher Virginia Cook, who taught at both the middle and high schools. This year’s Shelby County High School Teacher of the Year is history teacher Lee Pastor.

After earning an undergraduate psychology degree from Georgia State University, Pastor spent time at home with her children when they were young. She decided to enter the teaching profession because she enjoyed the teaching she had done through Girl Scouts, her church and her children’s school.

Pastor received her master’s in education in 2009 from the University of Montevallo. After substitute teaching and working as a special education aide for Pelham High, Pastor began her first year teaching at Montevallo High School last school year.

In only her second year, she has made quite an impact on student achievement. She not only aims to instill the importance of understanding our nation’s history to be better-informed citizens, but she encourages students to get involved in the workings of their school and community. As the Student Government Association sponsor, she helps students coordinate homecoming events and the annual personal development conference.

“My job as a teacher is to learn students’ personal stories and figure out how to motivate them to do their best, not only in academics but in life,” Pastor said. “Later in life, they may not remember specific events we discussed in history, but hopefully they will remember being loved, believed in and empowered to achieve their potential.”

Pastor is personally encouraged when she sees a student “get it,” when students make connections with what is being discussed in class and the present day world in which they live.

“Mrs. Pastor is a really good teacher, my favorite actually,” sophomore Jack Brown said. “She encourages us to succeed, to work to the best of our abilities.”

Pastor’s work and dedication is also appreciated by the administration.

“Mrs. Pastor affects her students in many positive ways and is a determined leader at both the high school and in the community. Her efforts in working with SGA, coordinating Homecoming Week, overseeing the MHS Career Conference and partnering with Mayor Cost in the development of student leadership have been nothing short of spectacular,” MHS Principal Dr. Wesley Hester said. “She is not only a great history teacher, but she is an excellent teacher and leader of young people.”