- Dawson Elementary School
Ask for More Jackson Honors 10 Outstanding JPS Educators
October 28, 2022
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Ask for More Jackson celebrated ten JPS teachers during its 2022 Outstanding Educators Awards on Thursday, October 13 at the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center. Honorees were selected because they inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love for learning in their scholars. Family, friends, principals, and executive leadership were there to celebrate these outstanding educators. During the ceremony, each honoree was afforded the opportunity to share their personal thoughts on what it means to be an educator, specifically in JPS. “I became an educator because I wanted to give back to the District that gave me so much,” said Dr. Alfred Smith, Jr., a teacher at Provine High School. “It gives me great joy to see the scholars I’ve taught now work as educators!” Honorees were presented with a gold medallion, a certificate, and funds that can be used for professional or personal purposes.
Ask for More Jackson Outstanding Educators 2022:
Bethany Philipp is a 4th through 12th-grade dance teacher at Ida B. Wells APAC, where Dr. Kescher Rankins is the principal. Mrs. Phillip has 7 years of teaching experience. She holds an MFA degree in dance from Texas Woman’s University and a BFA degree in dance performance and choreography from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is also a proud alum of Murrah High School. Most recently, Mrs. Philipp was selected as Teacher of the Month in February of 2022. Her mission as an educator is to support, encourage, and foster productive educational experiences for students by creating an equitable, collaborative and process-driven learning environment. “Mrs. Philipp is an amazing educator who takes care of the “whole” child, said Principal Rankins. “She is committed to getting the job done with commitment, accuracy, and excellence.”
Dr. Alfred Smith, Jr. is a 12th-grade teacher at Provine High School, where Dr. Shelita Brown is the principal. Dr. Smith has 18 years of teaching experience - 10 years at Provine and 8 years at Blackburn Middle School. At Provine, he teaches essentials for college literacy, DC public speaking, DC voice, and ACT prep. Dr. Smith holds a doctoral degree in educational administration and supervision from Jackson State University. He believes that teaching is not an exact science, but an art form that is constantly changing and evolving along with societal wants and needs towards public education and also believes that showing support for stakeholders such as students, their parents, and community leaders is crucial. “Dr. Smith is an inspiring, credible, talented teacher,” said Principal Brown. “He continues to seek out any opportunity for professional growth, which makes him an ideal leader and stellar candidate for this award.”
Nicki McDonald is a Pre-K teacher at Dawson Elementary School, where Vicki Conley is the principal. Ms. McDonald teaches ELA, reading, math, science, and social studies. She has 7 years of teaching experience - 2 years at Dawson Elementary, 2 years at Raines Elementary, and 3 years at Van Winkle Elementary. She holds a Bachelor of Science in childcare and family education and a Master of Science in early childhood education from Jackson State University. Recently, she was selected as Teacher of the Month in April 2022. She was also awarded a Junior League of Jackson mini-grant in 2015. She strives to create lifelong learners that have a love for reading, who are self-sufficient, and able to obtain tools that allow for a more rewarding life, regardless of a student’s background. “Ms. McDonald has proven herself to have the organization, passion, perseverance, initiative, and drive to reach students and inspire them to love learning,” said Principal Conley.
Dr. Anita M. DeRouen is a 9th, 11th, and 12th-grade teacher at Murrah High School, where Dr. Alvanette Buchanan is the principal. Dr. DeRouen teaches APAC English I and dual credit composition I & II. Dr. DeRouen received a doctorate and English degree from The University of Georgia. Dr. DeRouen has 3 years of teaching experience at Murrah High School, 12 years at Millsaps College, 8 years at the University of Georgia, and 3 years at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts. Dr. DeRouen says her job is to grow literate people. She sees literacy as a gift and tries to help students engage with themselves as learners. This includes teaching students how to slow down. “Dr. DeRouen is an outstanding teacher,” said Principal Buchanan. “She extends herself to motivate students to reach their highest potential, both academically and socially.”
Roberta Hicks Walker is a 3rd-grade teacher at Spann Elementary School and the grade-level team leader. She has a Bachelor of Science in special education and a master's in special education from Jackson State University. She has 23 years of teaching experience - 16 at Watkins Elementary and 7 at Spann Elementary. Ms. Walker received Teacher of the Year at Spann Elementary in 2019 and 2020, received Junior League awards over 5 years, and is in the top 10 in JPS for ELA-MAAP scores. “Ms. Walker goes beyond the call of duty and works outside of the regular school hours to plan, schedule, and provide for the students of Spann,” said Spann Elementary Principal Lori Torrey. “Her relentless effort has impacted Spann and the community in ways that will last for years to come.”
Dr. Sonia Nicole Johnson is a Pre-K teacher at Van Winkle Early Childhood Center, where Ashanti Barnes is the principal. Dr. Johnson obtained a bachelor’s degree in childcare and family education, a master’s degree in early childhood education, and a doctoral degree in early childhood education from Jackson State University. Overall, she has 22 years of childhood education experience. Dr. Johnson received the 2021 and 2022 Employee of the Month award at Van Winkle. She believes that all students are capable of and possess the ability to learn. It is her responsibility as a teacher to accommodate students’ individual needs. “Dr. Johnson has outstanding customer relations and communication skills with staff, parents, and the community, said Principal Barnes. “She possesses the exemplary leadership qualities and skills needed to maintain high academic standards for all students and those of this program.”
Ladi Bell Harris is a 5th-grade teacher at Green Elementary School, where Terrence Hill is the principal. Ms. Harris has a Bachelor of Science in early childhood from Tougaloo College. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of Arts degree in teaching from Belhaven University. Ms. Harris has 7 years of teaching experience. She received Teacher of the Month while at French Elementary, during her current tenure at Green Elementary, and she is the AFMA school liaison. Ms. Harris’ method of teaching is flexible. She strives to create an atmosphere that is beneficial to every student’s learning style. Ms. Harris is not only an awesome teacher, but she is an awesome student of education and the education arena, said Principal Hill. She is always perfecting her craft, learning, and working to implement new strategies to ensure all of her students are well equipped for the next level and beyond.”
Amanda Blake Terrell is a 3rd-grade teacher at Lake Elementary School, where Yasontas Burton is the principal. Ms. Terrell has 25 years of teaching experience, all at Lake Elementary. She holds a Bachelor of Science in elementary education and a Master of Arts in science. Ms. Terrell is a 2007 Parents for Public School award winner and the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year for Lake Elementary. Along with providing hands-on experience with her students, Ms. Terrell believes engaging parents in the student’s learning process is just as important. She believes that providing strong gateways to parental involvement is essential for student success. “Ms. Terrell is a superior leader among her fellow colleagues,” said Principal Burton. The culture of learning established in her classroom is well defined with high expectations for all students.”
Amy Burns is a 5th-grade English language arts and social studies teacher at Sykes Elementary School, where Dr. Tantaneshia Houston is the principal. Ms. Burns has a Bachelor of Science degree. She worked at Marshall Elementary as an instructional assistant for 4 years and has a little over a year of experience at Sykes. While at Sykes, she received Staff Member of the Month and Teacher of the Month recognition. Ms. Burns serves as the sponsor of D.I.V.A.S of Distinction and of the cheerleading squad. Ms. Burns believes in core values, such as a growth mindset, innovative teaching and learning, student and parent engagement, professional development and growth, leadership, and collaboration with peers. “Ms. Burns’ work habits and ability to communicate with others are commendable,” said Principal Houston. “She performs her duties and responsibilities with pride and satisfaction while exhibiting patience and genuine concern for the students.”
Ebony Marshall-Newsome is a 2nd-grade teacher at McLeod Elementary School, where Delacey Bridges is the principal. Mrs. Newsome has 16 years of teaching experience. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in early childhood education, a Master of Science in elementary education, and a specialist in Psychometry. Mrs. Newsome earned the AR STAR Recognition award in 2020-2021, the Team Spirit award in 2020-2021, and a Junior League grant for “Growing Little Readers”. Ms. Newsome decided to become a teacher to make a positive impact on the lives of children and to engage them in meaningful thinking and learning. “Mrs. Newsome is a highly competent and organized professional who always strives to be a positive example for her students, parents, and co-workers,” said Principal Bridges. “Her strengths converge in such a way as to render her a superb candidate to receive this great recognition.”
Congratulations to each outstanding educator and best wishes for more successful years to come.