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Parish teacher receives top state recognition

Concordia Parish Academy of Math, Science and Technology teacher Amber Nugent was awarded the 2014 Outstanding Math Teacher of the Year Award from the Louisiana Association of Teachers of Mathematics. Nugent teaches fourth and fifth grade math and science at the school. (Devonte Demby / The Natchez Democrat)

Concordia Parish Academy of Math, Science and Technology teacher Amber Nugent was awarded the 2014 Outstanding Math Teacher of the Year Award from the Louisiana Association of Teachers of Mathematics. Nugent teaches fourth and fifth grade math and science at the school. (Devonte Demby / The Natchez Democrat)

FERRIDAY — Amber Nugent’s goal as a teacher is to develop her students from where they originally started.

It was that goal that awarded Nugent with the 2014 Outstanding Math Teacher of the Year award from the Louisiana Association of Teachers of Mathematics.

“Not all of the kids are going to learn at the same pace,” said Nugent, who teachers at the Concordia Parish Academy of Math, Science and Technology. “So as long as I can see growth each week, I think that’s an accomplishment.”

Nugent is no stranger to the school, having attended as a child when it was Ridgecrest Elementary before it was converted to a magnet school.

Nugent now teaches in the same classroom where she took math under Patricia Merrill, a retired math teacher, while attending Ridgecrest.

“It’s really cool, especially when I work with my old teachers” Nugent said. “Sometimes, I still see myself as a student when I work with them. (Merrill) was just an awesome math teacher, so it’s kind of cool that I ended up in her room.”

Nugent teaches 20 fourth – and fifth-grade students throughout the day, but she has laid out a foundation to make sure her classroom flows fluidly.

“I try to group the students and make sure there is someone in each group that can re-teach what I just taught,” Nugent said.

Nugent experiences joy when her students understand the work they are required to do while working as a group.

“You can just see in their faces that they learned something that day,” Nugent said. “And it’s really neat when they can teach other kids in the classroom.”

Fifth graders Derrick Carson, 10, Joshua Brew, 10, Anthony Morgan, 10 and Jeanne Strauss, 11, love working under Nugent.

“What I like about Ms. Nugent’s teaching is that first she will make sure we understand it, and if we don’t she’ll help us,” “The way we learn is really fast, but she’ll give us easy methods to do it.”

Spanish teacher Jennifer Jeffers said she enjoys working along side Nugent.

“She has many talents from teaching to music,” Jeffers said. “She’s very positive and a lovely person to work with.”

Nugent and Jeffers work together to coordinate musical productions at the school once or twice a year, which are performed by the students.

Nugent said she hopes to grow as a teacher and continue to work with her surrounding peers.

“Just enjoy what you do and try to make a difference for every child’s life,” Nugent said. “Try to do something outside of the box and always look at the bigger picture.”

Nugent received a bachelor’s degree in teaching while attending Louisiana College and a master’s degree at the University of Louisiana Monroe.