TUCKERMAN, AR (KAIT) – Mrs. Amanda Fortenberry graduated from Arkansas State University-Jonesboro after getting her diploma from Tuckerman High School in 1997. For the last 11 years, she has been laying the foundation of a solid education for five and six year old students. Mrs. Fortenberry was nominated as September's Teacher of the Month for her efforts in helping children get comfortable with school activities.
"They just make any day brighter. You can't go wrong with 5 and 6 year olds," said Fortenberry.
Fortenberry teaches kindergarten classes at Tuckerman Elementary at the Jackson County School District. She graduated as a bulldog. She said she became a teacher after her teachers helped her out.
"Being with them really helped me to realize that was my passion, that's what I wanted to do, that's what God had intended for me to do with my life," said Fortenberry.
But that wasn't all that kept Fortenberry in the classroom. When she was in 7th grade, she started babysitting, which in turn, changed her life forever.
"I love learning. I've always loved learning. Throughout my high school years, I had teachers who took interest in my education and my life," said Fortenberry. "I also had a babysitting job where I took care of two small children."
Fortenberry said working with a special needs child had its challenges, but was also rewarding.
"One of them had cerebral palsy, and working with them after school, being with Lilly all those years helped me to realize I really did have a servant's heart. I want to serve those who need a little extra help," said Fortenberry.
Fortenberry described herself as a teacher with a "can do" attitude.
"If they don't get a good foundation in kindergarten, and they don't have a wonderful year and learn to love school in kindergarten, then it will make the rest of their school years hard for them," said Fortenberry.
Fortenberry is also the mother of two children, a 15 and an 8 year old. She said the transition from being a mother to a teacher was easy.
"They are happy. They are funny. When you are in a bad mood, there is always someone who finds a way to brighten your day," said Fortenberry. "I want them to know that they can. I want to push them. I think I'm an encouraging teacher, a loving teacher."
Fortenberry said when she read her nomination letter, she was overcome with emotion.
"Teachers don't get a lot of recognition for what we do in the classroom, and I was in complete shock. I cried. I was very happy, just very overjoyed with the nomination. It's something I never expected to happen to me," said Fortenberry. "I see the best in other people and I think they deserve those things, and at first I thought it was a joke, and then I got the letter, and when I read the letter, I knew who had sent it in."