Tops in their class

Published 12:14 am Monday, April 7, 2008

NATCHEZ — Across Natchez a small but devout group of women get up early each morning to go to a job many people would never consider attempting — they’re all teachers.

But for the eight local teachers named as teacher of the year teaching is more of a calling than a job.

Amy Smith a third-grade math teacher at McLaurin Elementary School was named teacher of the year for the Natchez-Adams County School District.

Email newsletter signup

Smith said she has almost always known she wanted to work with children in a way that provided them with a positive role model.

And in teaching she has found that opportunity.

“It’s completely satisfying,” she said. “I can reach so many students during a day.”

Smith estimates she has contact with approximately 700 children per day.

Smith said she strives to provide a positive role model for students even outside of the classroom.

“I never know what they take from us (teachers),” she said. “It can be more than just a lesson from class.”

Smith said one of her greatest honors in being named teacher of the year, comes from the fact that she was nominated from teachers from her own school.

But for McLaurin’s principal, Alice Morrison, Smith’s accomplishment did not come as a surprise.

“Amy is just an exceptional teacher,” she said.

Morrison said Smith’s competitive spirit drives other teachers and students to want to perform at their best.

“She is totally selfless,” she said.

Morrison said one of Smith’s students was at one time constantly without necessary school supplies, after contacting the student’s parents Smith learned they were in a financial bind and simply could not afford any supplies.

“So Amy got everyone involved,” Morrison said. “She got everything that family needed, they had Christmas because of her.”

Superintendent of the Natchez-Adams School District Anthony Morris said Smith’s award is one of the highest a teacher in the district can earn.

“She is extremely committed to young people,” he said. “She helps them achieve beyond what they think they can.”

Other winners include

Kit Spears was named teacher of the year from West Primary School.

As a kindergarten teacher Spears said she loves working with young children.

“When the come to school they are almost like blank slates,” she said. “When they leave some of them are starting to read. It’s amazing.”

Joan David was named Frazier Primary School’s teacher of the year.

“It’s such a huge honor to be chosen by you peers,” she said.

David has been teaching in the Natchez-Adams School District for 27 years and said she feels teaching is her calling.

David teaches reading to first-graders.

“When you see that light come on it’s all worth it,” she said.

Sandra Washington was named teacher of the year at Morgantown Elementary School.

Washington teaches fifth-grade reading.

Coincidentally Washington said she was inspired her fifth-grade science teacher to become a teacher.

“Since I was in the fifth grade I’ve known I wanted to teach,” she said.

When Washington first began teaching she started in science, she said her foundation in science has better trained her to teach reading.

Linda Logan was named teacher of the year at Robert Lewis Middle School.

Logan teaches seventh- and eighth-grade English.

She said developing strong bonds with students allows them to achieve a certain comfort level in her class and in turn learn more.

“You have to let them know you care,” she said.

Trish Pomeroy was named teacher of the year at Fallin Career and Technology Center.

Pomeroy teaches early childhood education to high school students from various grades.

Pomeroy said being named teacher of the year was a humbling experience.

“It’s really an honor,” she said.

Darlene Pickett was named teacher of the year at Central Alternative School.

Pickett specializes in teaching older students who have fallen behind in earning the necessary credits to graduate.

Pickett, a math teacher, said her favorite part of teaching is “watching the light bulb go off.”

Frances Doss was named teacher of the year for Natchez High School.

However due to a recent illness Doss will be out of school for the remainder of the year.

NHS’s principal James Loftin said Doss is a great asset to the school.

Loftin said Doss had a unique ability to reach a wide range of students no matter their level of capability.