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Jackson Public Schools Recognizes The Best of JPS

February 3, 2021

Dr. Alvanette Buchanan
Dr. Alvanette Buchanan, Administrator of the Year
Quintavious Phillips
Quintavious Phillips, Teacher of the Year
Joan Torres
Joan Torres, Parent of the Year
Ashanti Barnes
Ashanti Barnes, District Leader of the Year
Tommy Robertson
Tommy Robertson, Support Staff of the Year

On Tuesday, February 2, Jackson Public Schools recognized team excellence at several live and in-person events throughout the District. JPS Superintendent Dr. Errick L. Greene personally honored five outstanding individuals for their contributions which uplift our commitments to the scholars, families, and employees of our District. The recipients of the Jackson Public Schools' best of the year awards for 2021 are:

About the Honorees

Administrator of the Year

Dr. Alvanette Thomas Buchanan is an educator who is currently living out her lifelong dream of influencing education. She prides herself on being a change agent who is passionate about student outcomes and teacher development. In her work with educators, she is driven by a desire to find innovative and sustainable ways to transform and improve teaching and learning. Her primary topics of interest include teacher coaching, instructional differentiation, and data systems. 

During her more than 14 years in education, Buchanan has taught and led in the secondary school setting. Buchanan has an affinity for all things high school and welcomes the challenge that her role in influencing and guiding young adults often brings. She believes that one of her main responsibilities as a principal is to empower others to lead in their own dynamic and innovative ways. Buchanan has maintained a commitment to her own growth and professional development by serving as a member of the Jackson Public School District Administrator Advisory Committee. Buchanan also serves as a principal coach for JPS, where she facilitates professional learning experiences for all of the District's assistant principals.

Buchanan views her role as a leader as ever-evolving and all-inclusive. She is an advocate for families and teachers and believes in cultivating an organization with shared ownership of commitments, effective practices, and school goals.

Teacher of the Year

After receiving his Bachelor of Science in Biology from Jackson State University, Mr. Quintavious Phillips began discovering his passion for educating children. Before becoming a teacher, he volunteered several hours in local schools and with nonprofit organizations around the Metro Jackson area. In May of 2020, Phillips obtained a Master of Arts in Teaching from Belhaven University and is currently pursuing a Specialist in Educational Leadership from William Carey University.

At Galloway Elementary, Phillips teaches fifth-grade mathematics and science. He serves in several leadership capacities including team leader, science lab manager, and technology coach. Due to his effective teaching style, students have continued to show growth in both subject areas, and school data continues to show promise as measured by the Mississippi Department of Education Accountability System inside and outside of the classroom. Phillips is an innovative leader who pushes the envelope daily to inspire students to reach their greatest potential. He knows that successful students become successful adults who contribute to society. Through the years, Phillips has become a role model to students and a great asset to the Jackson Public School District. His commitment to excellence has been ingrained into his students, and their thirst for knowledge continues to inspire him and fuels his undying passion for student achievement. Phillips draws from life experiences and creates relevant lessons that inspire and provoke intensive and critical thinking. He undoubtedly promotes achievement by affording students the most incredible opportunities for success.

Parent of the Year

Mrs. Joan Torres has exemplified excellence in the school’s improvement efforts, and she supports the school employees and administrators greatly. She takes pride in her children’s performance in their academic accomplishments. As a new parent to the Bates community, Torres has been a pillar of support system with our English Learners (EL).

Torres supports all school efforts. She has been most visible in providing student work packets, technology devices, and supports for not only her children but other EL families in our community during our distance learning and virtual learning this year. We can always depend on Torres to provide interpreting services to any parent that may need assistance as well. Torres even comes by the school to pick up and deliver lunches to families in our area who may not have transportation.

At the beginning of the school year, Torres introduced herself to Bates Principal Stephen Johnson as the "EL Mom." She is fulfilling this role to the fullest each day. She knows just about all of our EL scholars. It is without question that Torres is well-deserving of this great honor.

Torres helps families beyond the school environment by going to interpret in hospitals and other areas in the community where interpreters are not readily available.

District Leader of the Year

Ms. Ashanti Barnes has demonstrated a proven track record of success through building a climate and culture that is conducive for teaching and learning, providing research-based professional development that builds teacher capacity in an effort to increase student achievement, forming educational partnerships through parental and community involvement, and using data to make schoolwide decisions regarding attendance, behavior and course performance.

Barnes' philosophy regarding her role in JPS as the Assistant Principal of Van Winkle's Early Childhood Center is to demonstrate the spirit of excellence through servant leadership. She believes that it is my responsibility to uphold the core values of JPS. She seeks to provide world-class educational and social/emotional experiences for all staff and students. She is from the school of thought that through her growth mindset, she may inspire others to reach a little higher each day.

Barnes has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to motivate those she leads with a shared vision. She effectively communicates the alignment of professional development, new initiatives, and instructional practices with the District's shared vision.

Support Staff of the Year

Mr. Tommy Robertson is a hard-working Graphic Arts specialist who aids the District in providing an appealing brand through digital, electronic and print media. He assists in designing logos, brochures, signs, and website graphics when needed. Robertson continues to demonstrate a proven track record of success for our students, staff, schools, and departments by appreciating the good in others, creating lasting memories, and making connections that matter.

His supervisor's philosophy regarding Robertson's role in this District is pretty simple: "There is no 'I' in Team." As a director, she is able to see firsthand how well he works and how seamless he makes the finished product look. It makes her feel good to know that as a result of his teamwork, they are able to continue building and fostering relations internally and across the District.

Robertson is a perfect choice to represent the District for this honor because of his hard work, dedication, attention to detail, and willingness to assist in any given situation. He has a long tenure with Jackson Public Schools, and he understands that it truly takes everyone working together in order to get the job accomplished.

About the Awards

In keeping with our commitment to cultivating a community of accountability and excellence, Jackson Public Schools annually recognizes team members who make outstanding contributions toward our mission of developing scholars' success and achievement through world-class learning experiences. While our program honors one individual in each category, we acknowledge that these awards are representative of many individuals throughout our District and our overall community making a difference in the development of young people.

Based on the state-level recognition programs, our Administrator and Teacher of the Year awards seek to honor individuals who demonstrate a superior ability to inspire their colleagues, faculty, and staff; demonstrate exemplary leadership practices; and ongoing, active involvement in the community. Additionally, the Parent of the Year recognizes an outstanding JPS parent, or grandparent, whose significant commitment, through generous gifts of time and other resources, has a powerful effect on the success of the school. Our Administrator, Teacher, and Parent of the Year will go on to represent Jackson Public Schools in the annual Mississippi Department of Education recognition programs.

In 2020, we added two awards to celebrate the very real contributions of our Support Staff and District Leaders, which gives us another significant opportunity to highlight exemplary service among the multi-faceted teams who help make our District a conducive environment for our scholars to grow and develop.

About Jackson Public Schools

Jackson Public Schools is the second-largest school district in Mississippi, serving more than 80 percent of school-aged children in the state's capital and only urban municipality. With a firm belief in the importance of equity, excellence, growth mindset, relationships, relevance, and positive and respectful cultures, JPS works to develop scholars through world-class learning experiences to attain an exceptional knowledge base, critical and relevant skill sets, and the necessary dispositions for great success.

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