Alexis I. DuPont High School teacher Tami Soltow sort of though she was in trouble when some of the administration showed up in her classroom last week.

“I had been emailing everyone about helping out in the Special Olympics,” she said with a chuckle. “I thought they were coming to tell me, ‘whoa there!’”

When she took them to the back of the room for a talk, she got quite the surprise.

“Our superintendent, Merv (Daugherty), said, ‘Oh no, back up front – this is about you,’” Soltow said.

What happened next brought tears of unexpected joy to the science teacher’s eyes – Soltow was awarded with the Red Clay Consolidated School District’s “Teacher of the Year” award.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” she said, grinning from ear to ear. “Honestly, because we have so many great teachers here, some of the best around.”

Soltow returned to teaching in the 2000’s after taking time off to return to college – for, of all things, a law degree.

“I actually came from a law enforcement background,” Soltow said, adding that both her father and her older brother are former police officers.  

After a few years as a Legal Eagle, however, Soltow decided to give teaching a shot once again, taking a variety of different positions before landing at DuPont in 2010.

“I found that I liked the law, but that I didn’t love it,” she said of her decision. “But I loved teaching and missed it, tremendously.”

Soltow generally instructs within the science curriculum of classes, including anatomy and forensics – two aspects she helped bring to the table when she landed the position at DuPont. She also teaches a class on legal process, and will be starting a dual program in conjunction with DelTech starting in the fall.

She is also instrumental in getting the district’s Special Olympics celebration off the ground, recruiting volunteers and coordinating events.

Daugherty said that both the teaching staff, who submits the nominations, and the selection panel responsible for the decision, takes their duties very seriously.

“They know the people they select for their school means a great deal,” Daugherty said. “They were very excited about the four finalists and they were very careful about their final choice.”

Daugherty said that Soltow is a great teacher with wonderful character who goes out of her way to connect with her students and make sure they understand the material thoroughly.

“She’s the real deal,” Daugherty said. “The enthusiasm she brings, the involvement she has with the students, working with Special Olympics – she is someone we want every teacher to be a reflection of.”