Carola Martin was recently named Teacher of the Year for Sweetwater Middle School within the Sweetwater Independent School District. She is a seventh and eighth grade science teacher.
Martin's entire teaching career — spanning 26 years — has been with Sweetwater ISD. She earned her Bachelor's of Science degree in Ed. Biology and Life/Earth Science from Abilene Christian University.
Martin has been involved in a number of community activities. She has been a softball, basketball and volleyball coach for city league for several years and has also been a Girl Scout leader. She has taken part in numerous cancer walks and fundraisers and is an active member of the Roscoe Church of Christ.
For 17 years, she has taken eighth graders on the Washington, D.C. Spring Break trip. In addition, Martin has been the chairman and director of the Sweetwater Jaycees Miss Snake Charmer Pageant for 23 years.
As a teacher, Martin strives to have a strong relationship with the community. She has been able to maintain the relationship through coaching middle schoolers in TMSCA (Texas Math and Science Coaches Association) for the past couple of years.
The program allows for community members to interact with middle school students. Through community help and parents' leadership, the program has become successful as 11 students qualified for the TMSCA state competition held this year in San Antonio.
Martin says that many ideas impact her teaching of science, which she says is a very important subject that will improve students' lives while helping them in adulthood. Her passion for the subject is obvious to her students, which she strives to express each and every day in class.
"[The] excitement for the subject is definitely contagious," stated Martin. "It is a wonderful thing when a student expresses the opinion that they have never been any good at Science at the beginning of school and say it is their favorite subject later in the year."
Martin also points out that students have a desire to learn — even if their opinions say the opposite. She says that when students are given a challenging job that shows its importance in everyday life, they thrive and become successful.
Even students who say they want an easy teacher crave learning experiences, said Martin, and she uses it to motivate her.
"Remembering my own educational experience," Martin recalled, "a teacher is never held in high-esteem by not teaching anything...students will feel cheated of an education if the teacher fails to deliver knowledge."
She also utilizes technology in the classroom to give science "an extra excitement and 'wow factor'", and she believes that technology keeps students interested in the subject.
For the past three summers, Martin has been able to take part in a three-week course that teach science instructors on ways to integrate technology, which has also given her confidence and inspiration.
"Education is changing so rapidly and we must keep up with the way students are learning today. If we don't, we will lose students that we could have otherwise reached."
But along the passion, learning and technology, Martin says that respect and care toward each student is what collectively makes an outstanding teacher. She says students know when a teacher is being genuine and she credits her father for teaching and passing on these traits to her.
"He instilled in me that if you show that you are really concerned about their well-being, [students] are much more receptive to what you are trying to teach them. Most teachers understand that teaching matters, but what some forget is that it needs to matter every day."
Martin takes an anonymous quote and uses it to describe her philosophy on teaching: "I'm not in it for the income, I'm in it for the outcome."