Benton School District Teacher of the Year Becky Fulcher has been teaching for more than 30 years. She started her career in 1978 in Hamburg and Crossett and came to the Benton School District in 1985. She has been chairman of the Benton High School Math Department since 2006. In addition to her stellar service in the classroom, she was the Benton High School Pep Stepper Coach for seven years and won two Overall State Championships during that time.

Here's more about Becky and her career in her own words.

What is your teaching philosophy? I know it sounds cliché, but I believe that as a teacher I must communicate to the student that I care about their success. They may not remember everything I teach them, but they will always remember how I treated them. If I can give some guidance to my students not only academically, but socially, and morally, then I feel I have accomplished my goal as a teacher. Many teenagers today do not have enough adults in their life giving them guidance and communicate to them the possibilities for a successful life. While I don't feel like public school should take on the task of raising kids, we still can offer comfort, safety and guidance to today's students.

How do you motivate your students to try harder?  I try to let them know that they can be successful in math and that I believe in them. I tell them the older they get, the easier math will become. This seems to motivate them to try harder even when they have not been successful in the past.

Do you have a favorite memory? My favorite memories are all the times that former students have come back and said “thanks,” especially if it was a student that I had a rocky relationship with while they were in my class. I'm happy to say this has happened several times. One particular student came back to my room to see me after she graduated to say thanks and to apologize for her behavior. Of course, I told her “not to worry … everybody learns to do things differently after high school.”  We had a great visit that day, which I am very thankful for because shortly after that she was killed tragically.

What would you tell a first year teacher? I often tell new teachers that the students don't care how smart you are or how much you have accomplished. They only want to know "Can you teach me?" I tell them to check your ego at the door and work hard! Nothing prepares you for teaching better than actually being in the classroom every day. You learn more in your first year of teaching than all four years of college!

What have you learned from other teachers? I am constantly learning from other teachers. Right now, the biggest thing I'm learning from my peers is how better to use of technology. It has truly changed the way we teach. Our math department constantly shares lesson ideas, teaching tips, and helps each other with the technology. It is truly a group effort to make us all better teachers.

What advice can you share with parents? No matter what their child's age (even in high school) keep up with their progress at school, know who their friends are, know where they are going and get more than your child's side of a story. It's not a matter of not trusting your child. It's just being a good parent. Academically, the difference in performance of students who have parents that stay involved in their life is so unbelievable! Teenagers act like they want parents to leave them alone, but deep down, I believe it matters to them if their parents care. They notice and they need your involvement and love!

If you could change one thing in the education system, what would it be? All the paperwork, meetings, and red-tape that we have to deal with. Just let us teach!