An entourage of guests and well-wishers converged upon the classroom where Hope Pearson (left) was teaching on Monday, February 20, 2012, to announce that she had been named the Jackson Public Schools' Teacher of the Year for 2012. JPS Interim Superintendent Dr. Jayne Sargent and other administrators from the district and the school, as well as representatives from the community and local media were among the celebrants visiting the school.Pearson was presented gifts from members of the community including her college alma maters, Millsaps College and Mississippi College. Pearson will represent Jackson Public Schools for the Mississippi Teacher of the Year.
Pearson was previously honored, in February 2012, during the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership's Teacher Recognition program. She began her teaching career in 2007 at McWillie Elementary where she is an exceptional education inclusion teacher to students in regular education and Montessori classes.
"The words that I remember most from my principal, Dr. Margrit Wallace, during the interview were – 'I want you to act as an advocate for the child.' Those words were planted in my heart, and I knew immediately that my purpose was to be an exceptional education teacher."
Her leadership roles at McWillie include:
- Team leader of the exceptional education department;
- Adopt-A-School coordinator;
- Ask4More Arts program coordinator in 2010-2011;
- Member of the Site Council, the leadership team, and the Safe Schools/Healthy Students committee; and
- Volunteer translator for Spanish-speaking families with children at the school.
Pearson is a 2007 cum laude graduate of Millsaps College with a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education and supplemental licensure in exceptional education and Spanish. She also holds an education specialist degree and master's degree in counseling from Mississippi College. She plans to complete a doctorate degree in educational leadership.
"During my undergraduate studies at Millsaps, I became interested in education on a global scale," she said. Her experiences abroad included:
- Student teaching at Lincoln International School in Costa Rica for five months in fall 2006;
- Study/research in Yucatan, Mexico, in the summer of 2006 on the "Ways of Teaching Literacy: A Cross-Cultural Perspective," including field research at five schools located in vastly different areas; and
- A month-long Spanish immersion program in Costa Rica in summer 2005 during which time she lived with a family and volunteered twice weekly at an orphanage and senior citizens' home.
She said her goals as a teacher are to "continuously try to instill a love for learning, to share strategies that are relevant and meaningful to the students, to challenge them, and most importantly, to communicate to them that I care for them far outside of the realm of our classroom."
McWillie's principal, Dr. Margrit Wallace, said Pearson "has a unique ability to relate to people of all ages and diverse backgrounds. She is an expert collaborator, and she is highly respected. Students and adults both want to work with her. She is one of the most outstanding professionals I have ever known and truly deserving of this honor."
Photo Gallery: 2012 JPS Teacher of the Year