Gautier High's McKenzie wins Mississippi Teacher of the Year

Jodi McKenzie
Jodi McKenzie

Gautier High School's Jodi McKenzie has been named state Teacher of the Year by the Mississippi Department of Education.

The 10th-grade English teacher in March was named one of four finalists.

She will move on to represent Mississippi in the National Teacher of the Year competition in Washington. There, McKenzie will get to meet President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama during a recognition ceremony at the White House's Rose Garden.

McKenzie, who has been teaching for 12 years, encourages students to become involved in community service, the Educatio Department said in a press release. As Student Council sponsor, she leads students in volunteering at the annual Jana Walmsley Swamp Run, Jackson County Exceptional School and Spirit of Gautier High fall festival.

"She is passionate about helping students realize their dreams and guiding them to see where their potential can take them," the Education Department said.

McKenzie is chair of the English Department, where she is on the summer-curriculum writing team and plans professional learning communities, a collaborative program among teachers.

"McKenzie leads her team by example," the Education Department said, "teaching all English state tested classes and supporting all re-testers to help ensure their success on the test."

She also is member of the Building Leadership Team; works with Excel By 5 to help teen moms prepare for motherhood; and helps stock a supply closet at the school to provide food, clothing and toiletries for students to take home on weekends to help lighten the load for all parents.

Also Thursday, Corlis Curry, principal of Lawhon Elementary School in Tupelo, was named Mississippi Administrator of the Year.

"I know that what happens in the classrooms across Mississippi each day collectively makes a difference for our students," said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. "We are pleased to recognize some of our stellar teachers and administrators from across the state, and I congratulate Mrs. Curry and Mrs. McKenzie on their distinct honors."