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JPS Teacher of the Year Announced at Forest Hill High School

January 22, 2019

Adrienne McDowell
Adrienne McDowell, 2019 JPS Teacher of the Year

JPS Superintendent Dr. Errick L. Greene led a contingent of well-wishers to Forest Hill High School where English teacher Adrienne McDowell learned that she was selected the 2018–2019 JPS Teacher of the Year. Participating in the surprise announcement on January 18 were her principal Torrey Hampton, her colleagues, parents and supporters of the school, and the local media. Even McDowell's father and sister were there to celebrate her.

"We would not be the district we are today, and will not be in the future, if not for amazing teachers like you who do everything you possibly can to ensure that our young people are prepared for the world," said Dr. Greene. "It gives me great honor to stand in the presence of and know people who do such wonderful work as you. In only your second year here at this school, you have already shown us what excellence looks like."

McDowell, who holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from Jackson State University, has been a teacher in JPS since 2008. Throughout her eleven-year teaching career, McDowell has worked to ensure that all the scholars she teaches receive a quality education that will benefit them not only in the classroom but also in whatever educational or professional path they will embark on in the future.

Her focus on high expectations and quality teaching and learning led to notable improvements in the growth of her students who were previously performing in the bottom 25 percent. Those scholars moved from minimal to passing on 2017-2018 English state tests. This school year, her scholars are achieving at the highest performance levels on subject area tests.

Quality teaching and learning in her class means she monitors students' understanding and adjusts her teaching methods. For instance, she turned a character study lesson into a mock trial. In their presentations, students had to become familiar enough with the text to effectively defend their positions in a mock proceeding.

Such practices are in keeping with her belief that "if scholars are not mastering a skill, it is our job as educators to come up with creative ways to help them better understand."

Dr. Errick L. Greene, Torrey Hampton, Adrienne McDowell, Dr. Otha Belcher, and Frank Terry
Participating in the 2019 Parent of the Year Presentation are (from left) JPS Superintendent Dr. Errick L. Greene, Forest Hill Principal Torrey Hampton, Teacher of the Year honoree Adrienne McDowell, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Otha Belcher, and Forest Hill Assistant Principal Frank Terry.

As one could probably guess, her platform—should she advance to become the National Teacher of the Year—would be to promote college and career readiness training for students starting as early as middle school. Additionally, she would emphasize the need for all secondary teachers to receive the appropriate training that would allow them to provide the quality of instruction that the scholars need to be successful in college. Furthermore, she wants to explore offering career-based educational paths for students.

McDowell's colleagues agreed that she is a leader with quiet strength who lets her results speak for her abilities. Her involvement with students in and out of the classroom demonstrate her commitment to their success.

"Though not very outspoken, Ms. McDowell's body of work speaks volumes," said Mekael Carpenter, literacy coach and English department chair. "She is a leader of our English II teacher cohort, in which she remains a consistent contributor to our school's Accelerated Reader goals. She is a constant fixture in the extracurricular activities at Forest Hill, showing scholars and colleagues alike that her connection to her students' overall success extends far beyond the classroom."

"She exhibits the characteristics of an effective practitioner who works hard to improve her craft on a daily basis," said Forest Hill Principal Torrey Hampton. "Her work ethic is beyond reproach."

McDowell will be considered with other outstanding teachers across the state for the Mississippi Teacher of the Year. The Mississippi Teacher of the Year Program recognizes outstanding performance by the state's public school teachers. Candidates for this honor must be certified and highly-qualified classroom educators. They must have a superior ability to inspire students, possess leadership capabilities and be an active member of the community.

McDowell was chosen from four Teacher of the Year finalists representing each of the District's instructional areas. Congratulations is also in order for the remaining three JPS Teacher of the Year area semifinalists:

  • Katrina Clerk of Lester Elementary (Area 2)
  • Cheryl Coleman of Bailey APAC (Area 3)
  • Beth West Roach of Barack Obama Magnet (Area 4)

Jackson Public Schools acknowledges and appreciates all those who donated to the gift package provided to the 2018–2019 Teacher of the Year. These donations include the following:

  • Classroom supplies from The RECH Foundation 
  • Overnight stay at The Residence Inn at The District
  • Complimentary dinner at Cantina Laredo Restaurant 
  • Gift cards for meals at Chick-Fil-A
  • Chair massage from Envy Salon and Spa
  • The Teacher of the Year plaque, sponsored by Trustmark Bank

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