COCONUT CREEK (CBSMiami) – Tammy Freeman was back in the classroom Friday, the day after being named Broward County’s Teacher of the Year.
She won the honor, and a new Toyota Camry from Toyota of North Miami, besting five nominees for the award.
Freeman has spent her 10-year career teaching English at Monarch High in Coconut Creek.
“I walk into my classroom every single day with the desire to inspire my students, the same way that my teachers inspired me,” Freeman told CBS4’s Gary Nelson
A nut for speaking properly, Freeman has lots of bad grammar pet peeves. She said double negatives probably top the list (“I don’t have no homework”). It makes her skin crawl when people, including network news reporters and presidents, say “importantly” when “important” is the correct word in almost every case.
She spends myriad time correcting her 9th graders who are exposed to bad grammar all over the internet and television.
“When my students come into my classroom and I try to correct them, they tell me, ‘well, people speak like that all the time,’ and I tell them ‘well, they’re incorrect as well’.”
Her students like and respect her.
“She’s funny and she’s very smart,” said student Phillipe Custodio.
When necessary, Freeman can be demanding.
“If you’re not trying, then she will be tough,” student Joshua Rogers said.
Call it tough love for students who she says fuel her passion.
“They are the reason why I’m here. They’re the reason why I wake up every single morning and I’m excited to come to work,” Freeman said.
The native New Yorker, with multiple degrees, could have pursued lots of professions but she said there was never any other option for her.
“I don’t know what I’d do if I wasn’t a teacher,” she said.
In addition to that new Toyota, Freeman received a $1,000 cash award. What will she do with the money?
“Probably pay some bills,” she said.
On a teacher’s salary, an extra grand can come in handy. More honors could lie ahead for Freeman. As Broward’s Teacher of the Year, she will now compete for Florida’s Teacher of the Year.