Eleven Coast educators have received national recognition for the lengths they go to to make their schools and students among the best in the state.
The LifeChanger of the Year program recognizes and rewards education professionals — teachers, administrators or any member of a school’s staff — who work with kindergarten through 12th-grade students, and who go beyond the call of duty in their professions. It is a program of the National Life Group, a financial services company.
The program selects educators nominated based on the difference they make in the lives of students, involvement in leadership activities at the school and in the community, and a record of excellent performance at the professional level.
The Coast had 11 nominated educators from six school districts. Mississippi had 55 nominees. The LifeChanger’s organization will select 15 winners nationwide, who receive cash prizes and donations to their schools totaling between $3,000 to $10,000.
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Bay St. Louis-Waveland School District
▪ Jeremy Weir, North Bay Elementary principal
Only in his second year as principal, Weir “has made changes to school routines with a vision of improving student learning while promoting a positive school culture. He is always student-driven,” said Weir’s nominee, teacher Angela Gill.
“Students and parents have gotten used to seeing him at little league football games to cheer on students, as well as participating in community events such as Coastal Clean Up on an early Saturday morning.”
▪ Amy Richardson, Bay High School
Richardson teaches English II at Bay High School, “but does so much more than teach her content,” according to her nomination. “She teaches and models patience, compassion and determination through every obstacle placed in front of her with grace and dignity.”
Ocean Springs School District
▪ Angela Sanders, Ocean Springs High School
Sanders was selected as the Economics Teacher of the Year in 2015 by the Mississippi Council on Economic Education. She also has been recognized for her consultancy work with the council, which provides professional development for the state’s teachers. Sanders has coached the winning team of the state economics challenge for the past four years and coached the first= place Mississippi High School Finance Challenge team for the past two years.
▪ Roque Quezada, Ocean Springs Middle School
Quezada, an eighth-grade math teacher, “not only knows his subject thoroughly, but how to diversify his teaching to meet the needs of all of his students. He gives his free time to assist others, and his character has a positive influence on his students,” according to his nomination.
Moss Point School District
▪ Billy Carroll, Moss Point Career and Technical Education Center
Carroll is a robotics engineering teacher and the founder and coach of the Moss Point STEM team, the first academic-based team in the district’s history. Every one of Carroll’s students passed the MS-CPAS2 (Mississippi Career Planning and Assessment System) state test in engineering. As a result, his program finished third among 46 engineering programs in the state. In 2016, Carroll received the Leo W. Seal Innovative Teacher Award.
Long Beach School District
▪ Vivian Robinson, Long Beach High School principal
Robinson’s primary goal has been to get the school to embrace ACT testing. In 2015, Long Beach High School ranked third in the state overall with a 20.3 composite score for all students. In 2016, Robinson assisted the school with ranking first on the Coast and third in the state overall with a 21.3 composite score, well above the state and national ACT averages. Under her direction, the Mississippi Department of Education ranked Long Beach High School No. 1 on the Coast and fourth in the state last year, according to MDE’s accountability grading.
Gulfport School District
▪ Tammy Parker, Bayou View Elementary School
Parker, a 25-year teaching veteran, serves as the school’s literacy coach and mentors teachers on learning methods and strategies. Parker has a direct influence on students at the school who have dyslexia, who she often advocates for, according to her nomination.
▪ Mandy Gunter, Bayou View Elementary School
Gunter is a third-grade teacher who on weekends designs lessons that boost learning both academically and practically.
Pascagoula-Gautier School District
▪ Emilee Berryhill, Martin Bluff Elementary School
Berryhill, a fourth-grade teacher, is the school’s informational technology specialist and creates presentations for the district’s Tech Camp for teachers in the state.
▪ Angela Sievers, Martin Bluff Elementary School
Sievers, a first-grade teacher, helps write the grade’s curriculum. She has served on various committees in her district, including Project Lead the Way, Strategic Planning and Common Core Curriculum.
▪ Cynthia Vaxter, Gautier Elementary School
Vaxter, a third-grade teacher, is her school’s gifted liaison. She is on the school’s leadership team.