The minute Amber Goolsby's 8:25 a.m. math class begins, she is in full teacher-mode.
Her class kicks off with an activity that pairs the children up and gives them a limited amount of time to come up with as many equations that equal 100 as possible. It's a fast-paced activity, and the kids enthusiastically snap to it.
Once the time is up, Goolsby engages each child in supplying answers, and then it is on to the next activity.
"I've learned to maximize my time with the students in the class," Goolsby told The Villager before her class started. "When I started teaching, it'd be 7:30 a.m. and kids are knocking on your door ready to come in. You have to be ready and prepared for them."
Her energetic attitude may be one of the reasons Goolsby, a fourth-grade teacher at Wrights Mill Road Elementary School, was recently named Auburn City Schools Elementary Teacher of the Year — a recognition awarded by the school system that allows Goolsby to be in the running for the same recognition on a district and state level. Goolsby teaches about 75 students daily the subjects of math, language arts and reading.
When Goolsby found out about the award, she said she was surprised and humbled.
"I'm very humbled," she said. "I love my job. I love coming to work every day."
Goolsby, who has been a teacher for 12 years and taught various grades on the elementary and middle school levels, said she tries to concentrate on connecting with each student. She often goes above and beyond to do that.
"We're given a task of teaching meaningful lessons around content; that is rewarding — when you come up with a good lesson and you think, 'Oh wow, those students got it. They enjoyed it. They had fun.' — but at the end of the day, it's most rewarding to see them grow as a person," Goolsby said. "Some (students) are harder to break through to than others, but for the most part, that's what I want them to leave knowing — that I love them, and I want them to do their best."
She recalled a student in her first year of teaching who struggled with math. Goolsby worked during breaks and after school to show the sixth-grade girl that she was capable and that math can be enjoyable.
"She's now working on her MBA," Goolsby said. "Stories like that are definitely rewarding, like maybe I did make a difference."
She grew up with educators in the family. Her mother was a teacher, and Goolsby was actually in her class one year. While Goolsby always felt called to teach, she spent a couple years in the corporate world working at John Deere. She eventually went back to school to become a teacher and knew she was on the right track.
"Going back to school was the biggest blessing that I had," she said. "It definitely felt like an answer to a calling that I had."
Goolsby taught in Troy and Geneva before coming to Auburn, and she says she has been blessed with great administration in all the school systems she has been a part of. In Auburn, though, she said she has an entire village that supports her.
"Teaching is a unique job in that you get to work with such an awesome segment of people — great administrators, teachers, students and their parents," she said. "I feel like that whole group of people just builds a good village around a child. It's a wonderful network to encourage that child to grow and also to encourage me to grow as a teacher."
Goolsby's application will be submitted soon to put her in the running to be the Alabama Elementary Teacher of the Year, which will likely be announced in April.