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Lay recognized as top teacher

Today at Demopolis Middle School, Jennifer J. Lay was given the Wal-Mart/DMS Teacher of the Year award.

Wal-Mart staff-member Doris Taylor and manager John Whitehead gave the award honoree a teacher of the year plaque, a $100 gift certificate to Wal-Mart and a T-shirt.

“I would like to thank Wal-Mart for presenting me with this fantastic and extraordinary award. A special thanks to the administration and staff for all of your support,” Lay said.

DMS personnel who accompanied those presenting the award included Geneva Howard and DMS principal Clarence Jackson, Jr.

“This is a great honor. You should be proud,” John Whitehead, Demopolis Wal-Mart store manager, said.

Lay is a special needs teacher who earned her master’s degree in emotional and behavioral disorders from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Ninety-five percent of her students, Lay said, have been in her class since they first started school.

“I’m into my ninth year and I have been with them since they were in kindergarten,” she said.

Lay attributed part of her success with her students to building relationships with them and by staying informed.

“Get to know your students and make sure you’re up on special education law,” Lay said.

Staying consistent in the way she treats her students in the face of challenges is important, Lay said.

She also expresses to her students how much she cares about them despite outside circumstances.

“It’s never the same and is always different. The consistency of acting the same way is important no matter what their behavior is that day,” Lay said.