Mississippi Department of Education name teacher, administrator of the year

Left to Right: Curry, McKenzie

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — The Mississippi Department of Education and the Mississippi Teacher Center named to 2016 administrator and teacher of the year for the state.

Corlis Curry was selected as this year’s Administrator of the Year. Curry is the principal of Lawhon Elementary in Tupelo.

The Mississippi Teacher of the Year awarded went to Jodi McKenzie. She is a 10th grade English Teacher at Gautier High School in the Pascagoula-Gautier School District.

Curry has served as principal of Lawhon since 2012. After teaching 5th grade in Lee County Schools and 7th grade in Nettleton schools, she taught English at Tupelo High School for seven years. In 2008, she worked in the Amory School District as an assistant principal at East Amory Elementary and as principal at West Amory Elementary.

Curry is credited with making significant instructional improvements during her tenure at Lawhon Elementary. Three of the most beneficial programs are Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), Targeted Accelerated Growth Program, and Arts Integration. Some of the most impressive aspects of the PLCs established at her school are the shift in focus from “teacher-centered” planning to “student-centered” with an emphasis on student achievement.

The Targeted Accelerated Growth Program was initiated as a means to prevent students from opting out of learning. “No Exceptions and No Excuses” is the program’s slogan. Lastly, the she encouraged a successful arts integration program where teachers can collaborate across multiple discipline areas, including art, physical education, music, multimedia, and core subjects.

The Mississippi Teacher of the Year program recognizes exemplary teachers in the state. The award recipient is also asked to share expertise through various presentations and activities for the improvement of education. McKenzie will represent Mississippi in the National Teacher of the Year competition. Also, she will travel to Washington, D.C., to meet the President and First Lady and will participate in a Rose Garden recognition ceremony at the White House.

McKenzie has been teaching for 12 years. She is passionate about helping students realize their dreams and guiding them to see where their potential can take them. At Gautier High School, she serves as English Department Chairperson, Student Council sponsor, and is also a member of the Building Leadership Team. McKenzie leads her team by example: teaching all English state tested classes and supporting all re-testers to help ensure their success on the test.

She also plans all department PLCs and serves on the summer curriculum writing team. McKenzie devotes much of her time at GHS encouraging her students to become involved in community service and helping them to understand the importance of making sacrifices for the greater good of others. She leads the GHS Student Council in volunteering at the annual Jana Walmsley Swamp Run, the Jackson County Exceptional School, and the “Spirit of Gautier High School” fall festival.

McKenzie is currently working with Excel by 5 to help teen mothers prepare for the journey of motherhood, and developing a supply closet at GHS to provide food, clothing and toiletries for students to take home on weekends to help lighten the load for all parents

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