Teacher Appreciation: Poplarville bids farewell to longtime educators

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 4, 2016

AGRICULTURAL: Keith Broom prepares his first period class for a test. Photo by Cassandra Favre

AGRICULTURAL: Keith Broom prepares his first period class for a test.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

Another school year is coming to a close. Many students will be promoted to the next grade level, while others will begin a new chapter in their lives either attending college or working at their first full-time job.
At times, the end of a school year marks the end of an educator’s career. This year, students and faculty of Poplarville High School, will bid farewell to three of their instructors, who have 81 combined years of teaching experience with the Poplarville School District.

The English Teacher

Laura Baird has taught ninth grade English I classes for the past 20 years at Poplarville High School.
Prior to teaching, Baird was a stay-at-home mom to her son and performed secretarial work.
Her love for people is what inspired her to become a teacher.
“I feel like I’m making a difference in young people’s lives and making them feel like they have value,” she said. “Whatever I do next in life, I want to make people feel valuable.”
Baird said she is the type of person who needs to stay busy and after retiring plans to substitute teach, volunteer, participate in more church activities and ride her bike on The Longleaf Trace.
During her tenure at the high school, Baird taught her students reading and analytical writing skills, but her goal was to help her students be the people they were meant to be.
“Being a Christian, my purpose is to be an encourager,” she said. “Even if you don’t say it, you get to show God’s love in a million different ways. I will miss that.”

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The Coach

Lifelong Pearl River County resident Alex Kennedy began his career at Poplarville High School as an assistant football coach. He worked with former football coaches Pat Morrison and Lance Beech. He also coached track.
He coached for 20 years. For the past 11 years, Kennedy taught astronomy, environmental science and health at the high school.
“I loved coaching and I love the interaction with the kids, they help keep you young,” he said. “I’m going to miss the daily interaction. We’ve got a really good school system and personnel. I’ve been fortunate to work with a really good administration along the way and made some lifelong friends.”

The Agriculturalist

Keith Broom teaches agricultural and environmental science technology at the Poplarville School District’s Career Development Center. For 18 years, he taught agricultural mechanics, industrial welding, electricity and hydraulics. Under his tutelage, students learned how to rebuild tractors and how to adjust and maintain equipment.
In 2002, class curriculum was changed to meet AEST requirements, which is more science based, Broom said. AEST encompasses a broader range of topics from soil to water samples and growing plants. In his mechanical classes, students get more hands-on experience. He also teaches animal science and agricultural concepts. The school’s Future Farmers of America group allows students to develop leadership skills and work on personal growth, he added.
Broom, having grown up on a farm, said agriculture is his life and but teaching was a choice. During his junior year in high school, he said he appreciated his agriculture teacher’s positive example and wanted to follow that route.
“I love seeing students come in and take an interest in something, then develop and grow as person and student,” Broom said. “Agriculture is relevant to what goes on around us. I love it and know the importance and I try to relay that to my students. It’s a good class and program. I’ve been blessed and have had a fulfilling career.”