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Sgt. Powell at Sparkman 9th Grade School is the Valley's Top Teacher

Sgt. Matrell Powell has a knack for getting to know his students. He says his main goal is to teach his students life lessons.

HARVEST, Ala. — This week's Valley's Top Teacher is a JROTC instructor at Sparkman Ninth Grade School in Harvest.

Sgt. Matrell Powell has a knack for getting to know his students. He says his main goal is to teach his students life lessons.

"I just try to treat them like they're one of my own kids and not try to be too tough on them," said Powell. "Certain situations call for me to be tough, but for the most part, I love them and try to treat them like one of my own."

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His students not only feel his love, but they also appreciate his sense of humor.

"It's just a really good class," said student William Agnetta. "We always do have very funny moments."

His students say that if you're even slightly interested in JROTC, you should take the class.

"I actually didn't know anything about JROTC," said student Anna Stephens. "This is my first year doing it, so I didn't hear anything about him and I love him so far."

Stephens says Powell is the epitome of a great teacher.

"He is one of the best instructors that we have at this school honestly," said Stephens. "He's very motivating and he is leading a very good class."

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Powell strives to teach his students many life lessons, but one skill he focuses on is public speaking, a hurdle he had to overcome as well.

"You have to do briefings, and that's where you talk in front of the class," said Agnetta. "I've always not liked presentations, I've hated them as a matter of fact, and I still don't like them, but it's made them a little more tolerable."

That's what his class is all about: Getting students out of their comfort zones in order to live a more fearless life.