JFP People of the Day: Outstanding Educators | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

JFP People of the Day: Outstanding Educators


Community groups honored four outstanding educators, who are (clockwise from top left) Diane Setzer, Mary Cook, Barbara Stevens and La'Keshia Opara-Nadi.

Sept. 8, 2011

Parents for Public Schools of Jackson and the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson honored four outstanding teachers in the Jackson Public Schools: Diane Setzer, Mary Cook, Barbara Stevens and La'Keshia Opara-Nadi. All four received a 2011 Outstanding Educator award during a luncheon yesterday at the Jackson Medical Mall.

"The outstanding educator establishes learning communities by providing an atmosphere that promotes each student's personal growth and development," Kisiah Nolan, president of the Jackson Public Schools board, said at yesterday's ceremony.

"The object is not for educators to teach our students but to guide them to become independent learners. Therefore outstanding teachers are passionate about not teaching but facilitating learning. They know they can only do this if they provide an environment where students are free to ask questions. And these questions will be honored and answered. These outstanding teachers are the architects of the world of tomorrow. They see a child, and dream of what that entire child can become."

Diane Setzer is a kindergarten teacher at Davis Magnet School. She knows that great teaching extends beyond academic subject matter to serve the whole child. She dedicates much of her time to teaching cooperation, collaboration and how to work with peers, laying a foundation for success in the future.

Mary Cook teaches fourth grade at McLeod Elementary School. Cook understands the importance of determining how each child learns best, and then makes sure she reaches all of her pupils. Rather than relying on rote memorization, Cook challenges students to explain their process for arriving at answers to questions.

Barbara Stevens teaches 12th-grade English at Callaway High School, and her career extends for more than 40 years. "Ms. Stevens has been able to gain the cooperation and confidence of the students and their parents through her thoroughness, consistency, fairness, and compassionate style," one principal said of her.

La'Keshia Opara-Nadi is a first-grade teacher at Pecan Park Elementary School. She has made a commitment to life-long learning, holding advanced degrees in education. She regularly leads professional-development sessions for her colleagues at Pecan Park, passing on her knowledge of teaching and learning. In the classroom, Opara-Nadi challenges students to apply their knowledge to real-world situations.

"As parents, we have great expectations of our children's teachers," Susan Womack, executive director of Parents for Public Schools of Jackson said in a release.

"We welcome the opportunity to honor those who live up to and even exceed our expectations."

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