Mingee named elementary teacher of year in Concordia Parish

Published 12:17 am Saturday, February 24, 2018


NATCHEZ — Susan Mingee had two childhood dreams — to be a teacher and a post office attendant.

In the past 34 years, she has fulfilled both of them.

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“I’ve known I wanted to be a schoolteacher since second grade,” Mingee said. “There was a short time when I thought I wanted to be a post office worker — I just loved their spinning chairs and putting the mail in all the boxes.”

As the librarian for Vidalia Lower Elementary School, Mingee is in charge of the internal mail system.

She did not get the swivel chair, but Mingee said she still feels like she has the best of both worlds.

And for her hard work, members of the Concordia Parish School Board named Mingee the 2018 Elementary Teacher of the Year.

Mingee said she first knew she wanted to be a schoolteacher when her second-grade teacher asked her to help another student who was struggling with her handwriting.

“When (the other student) improved, the teacher praised her, but she also praised me,” Mingee said.

The realization that she could help others through teaching made an impression on Mingee.

“That really stuck with me,” she said.

Except for the short period wherein she was enamored with postal work, Mingee said she has never wanted to do anything else.

Instead of ebbing as she grew older, Mingee said her passion for teaching has only grown.

“Even after 34 years, it’s exciting,” she said. “Every day is a challenge, but every day you get to make a difference for these children.”

Mingee said she grows close to the students who cross her path — and almost every student in the school passes Mingee’s path at some point.

“I have contact with every class at some point, whether through accelerated reader or another class,” she said.

Her days are filled with little hugs and smiling faces — just as she wants them to be.

“I borrow people’s children every day for a few hours and send them back home,” Mingee said. “I just love it.”

Mingee is a product of Natchez public schools, she said, and has taught in public school systems for the duration of her career.

“I never wanted to work anywhere else,” she said. “I grew up in the system. It was a natural thing for me to apply for a job in the public-school system.”

Mingee spent the first 27 years of her vocation teaching in Natchez, primarily at Joseph Frazier Elementary School.

After retiring from the Natchez-Adams School District seven years ago, Mingee began working for Vidalia Lower Elementary School.

“I was hopeful that this particular place and position would come about,” she said. “And it just all worked out the way it was supposed to.”

As an avid reader, Mingee said she was naturally drawn to the library.

“I can get children excited about books,” she said. “It lets them go places they’ll never get to go. The ice age. Ancient Egypt. The dinosaurs.”

Engendering a love of literature while young, Mingee said, is important to the development of children.

“In this elementary age, they learn so fast day-to-day,” she said. “I’m afraid we won’t have books for kids in the future, and that will be a tragedy.”

Books, Mingee said, connect children to others like them and relate to tragedies or positive experiences students may go through in life.

“What I love about teaching reading is extending the story and tying it to things they’re doing in their own lives,” she said. “We do so much more than read books.”

Though she knew her principal had recommended her for the award, and she dutifully filled out the applications and questionnaires, Mingee said she never expected to receive the honor.

“I don’t do this job for awards or anything like that,” she said. “I do the work I do because I love it.”