ALCORN COUNTY, Miss. (WTVA) -- It may not look like anything groundbreaking to most, but for these students at Alcorn Central High School, performing tasks like soft drink inventory is a normal day at school.
And it's all part of teacher Connie Lambert's lesson plan.
"I spent the first eight years of my teaching career in a regular classroom," Lambert said. "And I loved that, but I chose to quit and stayed on for a year, and I had the opportunity to come back and work with special populations. And I love that."
Though she teaches history in the traditional sense, Lambert said these tasks and activities give her students something practical that they can take with them in their everyday lives.
"I do not teach history as just a separate subject, but I would teach it in the context of the books and stories that we read, tie in current events," Lambert said. "Why is this important to us today? What can we learn from this to become better people, to be a better city, county [or] country?"
Her efforts were rewarded by the state of Mississippi, specifically the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, when Lambert was named 2012 Teacher of the Year.
"She's really, really dedicated to our kids, to our students," Alcorn Central High School Principal Tim Littlejohn said. "She works real hard with them and has worked hard for years."
Littlejohn said while the lesson plan is geared toward those in the classroom with special needs, the end result of this curriculum is something every student needs.
"High school is just a short time, and life goes on, and this is just preparing them for careers and becoming productive citizens. That's our goal, anyway," Littlejohn said.
Her fellow teachers say Lambert's motivations -- even after 37 years of teaching -- keep her striving to find new ways to teach and fun ways for her students to learn.
"That's what I appreciate, because so many teachers after so many years are content with just the status quo, and she's not," teacher Rebecca Lewis said. "She pushes herself to learn new things, and attend workshops and create a better and stronger learning environment for her students."
Most importantly, Lambert said she understands that some just need a little extra time to soak up something that could be invaluable.
"We try to work on skills that they would apply in the real world, and I see them go on to be successful in careers or in a community college, vocational school," Lambert said. "I think the things we're doing with these students really make a difference. They become productive citizens."