Educators Dora Babcock and Stacy Haley may not seem like they have a lot in common, but a deeper look reveals a lot similarities.

Besides dedicating their time to their students at their respective schools, both have been chosen by their peers as Teachers of the Year … although both really do not desire center stage.

Babcock, kindergarten through third grade content mastery learning lab teacher at Little Cypress Elementary, and Haley, special education applied English teacher at Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School, both say that being chosen is an honor, but it isn’t why they do the job.

“It is hard for me to accept an award for doing what I like to do,” Babcock said. “I don’t like being in the spotlight.”

Haley agrees.

“So many teachers here are deserving,” she said. “I hate being singled out. I feel like I need to share this honor with everybody else.”

Babcock, who graduated from Little Cypress High School in 1966, has been employed at the elementary campus for 27 years, where she started out working with visually-challenged children, then taught kindergarten and second grade before doing what she does today.

“I started off with a green board and chalk,” she said. “Now it is Smart Boards and individual computers for student groups. A lot has changed.”

Haley, who is also a LC-M high school alumni, graduating in 1980, has been teaching in the high school special education department for the past eight years after spending her first year as a teacher’s aide at the Little Cypress Junior High campus.

“The laws in special education are always evolving,” she said. “Accountability increases every year. As the demands grow, our paperwork grows as well.”

Babcock said that having a student come back and thank her for teaching them as a child is what makes it all truly worthwhile.

“After Hurricane Rita, I had one of my former students call me from Mississippi where he is now a minister,” she said. “He said that he had heard of the devastation and was worried and wanted to call and make sure I was okay. After all those years, for someone to think about me that way, that is what is truly special.”

Haley also feels that a student’s care and appreciation are the greatest achievement one can receive.

“A student’s expression of gratitude for knowledge or skills is my personal measure of success,” she said. “I had one come back and see me after he took his SAT test. He told me that after learning what I taught, he knew how to do that portion of the test. That is enough said. When they come back and thank me and I get to see them grow in learning, that is what is rewarding.”

Babcock said that she plans to teach for at least a couple more years, and she would like to see changes on the state level for education.

“Teachers deserve raises,” she said. “People don’t realize how much of what we do comes out of our own pocket. I’d like to see the economy pick up so that our districts are not under these budget crunches.”

Haley said that she would also like to see state-level changes. Changes that, she says, will help out all students and not just the ones planning on going on to higher education.

“Secondary education in general should move toward giving students more vocational choices in courses,” she said. “Vocational curriculum has diminished over the years and I’d like to see some of those programs come back. Not all of these students are going to go to college.

“We need to offer them more.”