Sheffield High School music teacher and band director Eric Kirkman is one of eight finalists for secondary teacher of the year, while Muscle Shoals' McBride Elementary intervention specialist Joy Harbin is among the candidates for elementary teacher of the year.
Kirkman, 37, has been teaching in Sheffield for 13 years, serving as the band director for the past 11 years.
is the second finalist from Sheffield High School
in as many years.
With a doctorate in instructional leadership and currently pursuing an administration certification, Kirkman said it isn't his personal academic achievements that make him successful, but the success of his students.
"No one knows the hours after 3 p.m. that goes into working with students," he
"It's an unbelievable amount of time, but then the payoff comes when you see the students' faces when they've just won at a major competition.
Success is also measured when students who have already graduated come back and tell me that they stayed in school because of the band program.
That's when you know you've had the kind of impact you've hoped for."
teaches choral music and music appreciation in addition to his
said it was an honor to be selected by his
peers at the local level, but winning the state title would give him a platform to promote the importance of educational teaching methods as well as music education across the state.
has conducted a great deal of research on current instructional methods, and said he
is always seeking opportunities to learn more.
"That's what a good teacher does-strives to learn the most effective approach to teaching students with various learning styles," he