By Emily Williams-Robertshaw
In early May, the Alabama State Department of Education announced the 16 finalists for its oldest and most prestigious awards program.
The Alabama Teacher of the Year award competition recognizes teachers throughout the state who inspire their students, foster achievement and passionately prepare them to succeed beyond their school years and into their professional lives.
Of the 138 teachers chosen from across the state, Hoover City School’s Pam McClendon has found herself among the finalists for the state title.
At Hoover’s Riverchase Career Connection Center, McClendon is lead teacher for the Cyber Innovation Academy.
In a February interview with the Over the Mountain Journal, McClendon described her teaching philosophy:
“I believe my role as an educator is to provide every student the opportunity to see their value as a contributing member in my classroom and beyond. Every student is unique, therefore I try to engage students in relevant and meaningful lessons that allow them to develop their own potential and learning style.”
McClendon said she also uses the “lead learner” model, teaching her students that the act of learning and acquiring knowledge never ends. Learning throughout life is a means to continue to grow and thrive.
Her philosophy to continually strive for knowledge and growth is something emulated throughout her professional life.
McClendon graduated from college with a degree in business and worked in that realm for a decade after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.
She returned to school to get a master’s degree in education in 2002 and became a computer science teacher in 2015.
When Hoover City Schools began recruiting staff for its new RC3 campus in 2019, McClendon joined the Cyber Innovation Academy faculty. She assumed the role of lead instructor in early 2020.
According to McClendon, teaching during the pandemic was a learning experience. It taught her how important it is to foster her students to become resilient learners. After school classes shifted to virtual learning, McClendon spent the summer of 2020 wondering whether she had done enough as a teacher.
She now strives to teach in a more intentional way.
“The pandemic has taught me to be reflective before, during and after every lesson so that, should there be some unusual event that impacts our school community again, I’ve left nothing to chance,” she said.
Prior to being named Hoover City School’s Secondary Teacher of the Year in late 2020, McClendon was named 2020 North Alabama Aspirations Educator of the Year. The honor was presented by the National Center for Women and Information Technology.
The Alabama Department of Education will narrow the group down to four finalists this summer. The 2021-22 Alabama Teacher of the Year will be announced in August.