Leah McRae was named Secondary Teacher of the Year by the Tennessee Valley Air Force Association. (CONTRIBUTED)
Leah McRae was named Secondary Teacher of the Year by the Tennessee Valley Air Force Association. (CONTRIBUTED)

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Air Force Association recognizes McRae as secondary teacher of the year

Published 10:10am Tuesday, June 11, 2013

MADISON – The Tennessee Valley Air Force Association (AFA) has recognized Leah McRae as Secondary Teacher of the Year.

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Russell V. Lewey presented the award to McRae at the Madison Board of Education meeting on May 22. Lewey is AFA’s vice president for aerospace education.

Dr. Brian Clayton, principal at James Clemens High School, nominated McRae for the award. McRae then completed a one-page description of a class activity that significantly affected the association.

On May 20, McRae was unlocking her classroom when a fellow teacher congratulated her. “Dr. Clayton had sent out an email to the entire school announcing the award,” McRae said. “I was really excited and surprised. ”

This award was special to McRae because it was so unexpected. She holds “tremendous respect” for organizations representing the military. “I still believe in the noble causes that are supported by the military. I appreciate the tremendous sacrifice made by all military personnel while protecting our country,” she said.

Her maternal grandfather, John P. Lonas, was killed in World War II while serving on the USS Harder. “His naval submarine was part of a ‘wolf pack’ … and destroyed by a Japanese submarine. He went down with the ship,” she said.

“My grandmother and mother, who was 4 when her father died, were greatly affected from this tragedy,” McRae said. Because of her grandfather, she learned a great reverence for the military early in childhood. Also, her son Cody enlisted in the Navy but was injured during basic training and could not continue.

McRae earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology at Auburn University and a master’s degree in biology education at Alabama A&M University. During 21 years in Madison, she has taught honors courses in biology and human anatomy and physiology, human body systems and medical interventions.

Her husband Jerry McRae teaches fourth-graders at Julian Harris Elementary School in Decatur. Their children are Reilly and Cody, both 23, and Jordan, 20.

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