Hilton: National conference boosted teacher’s morale

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 3, 2001

Natchez teacher Pam Hilton has always known her job was important.

But that became true to her in a new way after attending a national conference in Washington, D.C., this summer.

&uot;I did not realize until I attended this conference how valuable my job is,&uot; Hilton said.

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While in Washington, Hilton attended a conference for the Christa McAuliffe Fellowship Program. She was selected to attend because she was one of two teachers in Mississippi to win a $12,000 grant from the fellowship for the 2000-01 school year.

Because of that honor, the Mississippi Department of Education also selected her to attend the National Teacher’s Forum – a conference attended by teachers selected as teacher of the year for their respective states.

&uot;I just felt so special there,&uot; Hilton said. &uot;I know it was a special treat. It was very motivating.&uot;

Hilton, who has taught for five years at West Primary School in Natchez, has written a number of grants for the Natchez-Adams School District including a recent grant to fund salaries for student resource officers or police officers for the district’s high school, middle school and alternative school campuses.

She received the Christa McAuliffe grant to implement a &uot;Get Ready, Get Set, Write&uot; program for students in kindergarten to third-grade.

One of the most rewarding things about her trip to Washington, D.C., was meeting McAuliffe’s mother, Grace Corrigan and to hear her talk about her daughter and education.

She also met elected officials from Mississippi, heard motivational speakers and spoke with teachers from across the country often in small group sessions.

&uot;You’ve got to listen and learn, and we don’t do enough of that as educators,&uot; Hilton said.

She also became aware that all districts have problems and that the Natchez-Adams School District has many advantages.

Some other teachers said they did not have enough desks or as much technology, Hilton said. Others had more students in each classroom without the help of a teacher’s assistant.

&uot;We have a lot going for us (in Natchez),&uot; Hilton said.

She also gathered ideas for her own school such as club meetings for teachers to discuss concepts that work and improving communication with parents with e-mail.

She also agreed to help Rep. Ronnie Shows, D-Miss., on legislation that will address the needs of the gifted student – a personal interest of Hilton’s.

Education needs to address the needs of the at-risk child but it should not lose the gifted child in the process, Hilton said.

She thinks this coincides with the slogan, &uot;No Child Left Behind&uot; – the current theme of the U.S. Department of Education.

&uot;That should include the gifted child, as well as the child who has trouble,&uot; Hilton said.

Hilton knows she was meant to be a teacher so she strives to put her best into teaching and her classroom.

&uot;That’s my home away from home and it’s going to reflect that,&uot; she said.