Picayune School District names Teachers of the Year

Published 3:20 pm Saturday, January 15, 2022

Teachers that go above and beyond were recognized for their efforts during Tuesday’s meeting of the Picayune School District’s Board of Trustees.

Nicholson Elementary’s Teacher of the Year is Christine Westbrook, who was described by her students as a nice, fun and helpful teacher.

Nicholson Elementary Principal Lisa Howie said Westbrook has been with the school for the past two years, and in that time she has seen that Westbrook makes learning fun for her students. Students added in their written statements that she makes them braver, smarter and stronger, both in and out of class.

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The Teacher of the Year for Roseland Park Elementary is Summer Jacobsen. Written statements submitted by students state she is sweet, creative and a helpful teacher. Principal Dr. Katy Canulette said Jacobsen joined the staff a year ago and went out her way to make classes before the Thanksgiving break extra special by dressing as a pilgrim and bringing a Thanksgiving feast.

“She is one of the most dynamic and engaging and professional teachers,” Canulette said.

At South Side Lower Elementary, Sandra Daigle was named Teacher of the Year. She has been teaching since 1996. Principal Dr. Jeremy Williams said that while he has only been head of the school for a week, in that short time he has noticed the children love her. Williams said a vocation can be described as a purpose or calling in life and she treats her job as just that, a vocation, not just a job.

South Side Upper Elementary named P.J. Williamson as that school’s Teacher of the Year. She currently teaches fifth grade and was described by her students as kind, motivational, understanding and makes the students want to change the world. Susan Spiers, a gifted teacher at the school, said that she considers herself lucky to teach with Williams, but was surprised to hear that she quit her law practice to take up teaching.

“But this is a vocation, she does it because it’s making a difference each day,” Spiers said.

West Side Elementary’s Teacher of the Year is Stephanie Lee, who was described by her students as a helpful teacher who teaches them to be respectful and have good manners.

West Side Principal Kim Hart said she has noticed the students love Lee.

The Teacher of the Year at Picayune Junior High is Mallory Stone. Her students said in their statements that she always greets them with a smile and makes them feel wanted a loved. Stone has been teaching for the past six years, the last five of which have been teaching history. Picayune Junior High Principal Gen Breland said that all three of Stone’s children attend the district, and she has the ability to get her students to buy into the lesson plans and perform at higher levels.

Carmen Herrington has been named Teacher of the Year at Picayune Memorial High School. Her students stated that her positivity and encouraging personality has an impact on them beyond the classroom and makes learning fun.

Principal Kristi Mitchell said Harrington has been in the same classroom for the past 32 years, which shows the longevity of the staff within the district. Students who have since graduated from the district submitted letters stating that Herrington is an excellent educator who supports her students in their extra curricular activities. She’s been known to provide extra help to those students having difficulty preparing for the state test, which shows the is interested in their success.

At the Center for Alternative Education, Krystal Wright was named Teacher of the Year. Principal Daphne Beebe said that Wright has been with the school for the past eight years and is perfect for the job because she also ensures their most basic needs are met.

“She feeds them, loves them and makes them feel safe,” Beebe said.

Beebe added that Wright will soon have brain surgery for a medical condition, which led to Superintendent Dean Shaw asking Jeremy Williams, who is a pastor, to say a word of prayer for her speedy recovery.

After the prayer, Shaw announced the District Teacher of the Year, Carmen Herrington.

Board members Jake Smith, David Mooneyhan, Josh Robertson and Jarrell Myers all said that they recall their days attending classes in the Picayune School District and the impact their teachers had on their lives today.