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Four JPS Teachers Honored as Outstanding Educators

On Monday, August 25th and Tuesday, August 26th, 2014, four outstanding Jackson Public School educators were surprised during staff gatherings for being selected for the 2014 Outstanding Educators Award. Each year, Parents for Public Schools of Jackson and the Outstanding Educator Awards Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson honors outstanding educators from Jackson Public Schools. All four outstanding educators received monetary awards on Wednesday, September 3rd, at 11:45 a.m. at the Parents for Public Schools of Jackson’s “Lunch Bunch” at JSU’s Mississippi e-Center. The teachers can use the funds for professional or personal purposes. A generous, anonymous donor has made this award possible. Jane Alexander, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson said, “We are delighted to recognize our outstanding educators by supporting this award. Our teachers are our strength in public schools, and we should certainly be proud of the fine work they do. It’s important to celebrate the many great things teachers are accomplishing in our community.” Research says that educators are the most important factor affecting student achievement. According to Carolyn Jolivette, Executive Director of PPS of Jackson, “These outstanding educators are committed to using their talents and creativity to ensure that every child receives a quality education. Moreover, they care about our children and dedicate their lives to helping every child succeed. These 2014 honorees exemplify the investment made by hundreds of JPS educators each and every day, who work diligently inside and outside the classroom, without additional compensation or reward, to develop the minds and character of our children.” A selection committee comprised of community leaders reviewed all applications and chose the educators based on their commitment to student achievement by engaging students in challenging and meaningful work, incorporating a variety of teaching strategies, providing a safe learning environment, and interacting with parents as partners in the educational process.

The 2014 Outstanding Educator honorees from JPS are:

  • Zachery Hodge, Walton Elementary
  • Janet Salisbury, Davis Magnet Elementary
  • Janice Griffith, Pecan Park Elementary
  • Raynette Nichols, Career Development Center

Alexander presented the awards, which include monetary gifts for the honorees to use for professional or personal purposes. Each of the honorees was introduced by his or her principal. JPS Superintendent Dr. Cedrick Gray was also on hand for the occasion and made brief remarks.

2014 Outstanding Educators Presentation
2014 Outstanding Educators Presentation

Pictured are Zackery Hodge - Walton Elementary, Jane Alexander – Executive Director Community Foundation, Janet Salisbury - Davis Magnet IB Elementary, Janice Griffith - Pecan Park Elementary, Raynette Nichols, Career Development Center, and Dr. Cedrick Gray - JPS Superintendent.

About the JPS Outstanding Educators

Raynette Nichols has over 20 years of teaching experience in the classroom, with the past twelve years at Jackson Public Schools Career Development Center teaching Lodging, Hospitality, and Tourism Management and coordinating Dual Enrollment with Hinds Community College. According to her principal, Dr. Brenda Jackson, “Ms. Nichols has always been an instructor who understands and believes the role of a teacher is to select, revise, and develop curriculum that fosters the development of understandings and skill mastery that promotes the ability to solve problems, demonstrate reasoning, and communicate effectively.” As the Distributive Education Clubs of America advisor, Nichols has led JPS students to five international level competition wins. Nichols believes in the value of giving back and shares this practice with her students. “Volunteering provides valuable community services so more money can be spent on local improvement,” said Nichols. She believes that by being volunteers, her students not only gain professional experience for their future career, but it also promotes personal growth and self-esteem within her students. Zachery Hodge started his fifth year teaching 5th Grade Math at Walton Elementary in August. As stated by Walton’s principal Gwen Gardner, “When teachers have the knowledge, passion and enthusiasm for teaching and learning, they easily transform into great and outstanding teachers who challenge and motivate all students to become successful learners in the classroom.” In Hodge’s classroom, learning is beyond the basics for students. They use rap songs, chants, body movements, art, the basketball court, websites, sidewalk chalk activities, and cooking recipes to make learning more meaningful. Students are not just students but teachers of math. The classroom operates as a community of learners where all students are given leadership roles during the year. To challenge students in developing higher order thinking skills, Hodge volunteers to facilitate a Chess Team and Robotics Team afterschool that has achieved first place in research and first place in mechanical design in statewide competition. He also volunteers to tutor struggling students during his planning time. He created Hodge’s Math House, a website, where he shares activities, lessons, and other information with parents. Janice Griffith has 25 years experience in the classroom, with all 25 years being served at Pecan Park Elementary – 15 years as a classified teacher assistant and 10 years as a certified teacher. When a student becomes a member of Griffith’s class, he or she becomes a member of a family. With this family environment, her students feel very comfortable asking questions and knowing that she will take their concerns seriously and adjust instruction as needed. Griffith instills in her students the idea that they can celebrate all their successes – individual and class achievements, and no one is critical of each other. She makes every success a big deal. Griffith is her students’ biggest cheerleader and has created such a positive learning environment that her students have consistently achieved the highest class average each term on District assessments. She incorporates new technology into her lessons but has also gone “old school” by incorporating the use of old fashion board games, such as Sorry, to help teach social skills like following directions, cooperation and taking turns. Griffith is the team leader for her grade level and also serves as a teacher mentor/supervisor for student interns and student teachers. Janet Salisbury has been a teacher at Davis Magnet IB World School for three years. She is a fifth grade teacher whose students’ 2013 test scores topped the state in science and math. Her previous administrator Dr. Jane Everly wrote, “Ms. Salisbury touches her students’ hearts as well as their minds, and her classroom exemplifies more than high academic standards and a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum. Ms. Salisbury’s classroom is welcoming, calm, and respectful. As she models caring for her students, her students follow her lead and demonstrate care and compassion for others.” She works with students to engage them in service learning, which has addressed homelessness, conflict resolution, and the creation of an anti-bullying program over the past two years. Salisbury has also worked with community organizations to secure volunteer afterschool tutors to serve the students on her grade level team in the areas of math, reading, and language arts.