One of the biggest problems facing Mississippi students and teachers is the limited amount of time they have to cover a wide variety of topics.
Tiffany Casey, a fourth grade teacher at Northeast Lauderdale Elementary School in Meridian, believes covering so much material in a fast-paced environment can lead students to become less confident in their work. She says quality is more important than quantity.
Casey, who has taught various grades over the years – including first, second, and now fourth – has been pouring her heart and love for learning into young minds for 11 years. Although she has enjoyed something about every grade she has taught, Casey said one of her favorite things about teaching fourth grade is how loving, caring and independent her students are.
Casey earned an undergraduate degree in elementary education from the University of West Alabama, and her master’s degree from William Carey University.
There is so much to be done in the everyday life of teacher. Early mornings involve preparing lesson plans and last-minute details before students arrive for homeroom. With only seven hours in a school day, it’s a wonder how teachers manage to get everything done.
Common Core is a well known curriculum plan implemented by the state in public school systems. Casey has mixed feelings about it. Common Core requires a strict schedule of lessons, Casey said it “holds teachers accountable.”
Although she believes this curriculum plan helps students progress in math and science skills, she says some students are unable to master these skills due to the amount of information being thrown at them.
Leanne Benson is also a fourth grade teacher at Northeast Lauderdale Elementary. Benson has a master’s degree in elementary education from East Carolina University.
Benson supports Common Core saying, “It helps [the students] learn better.” She believes Common Core provides more education and gives students a more in-depth understanding of mathematics.
Fortunately, for the fourth grade teachers and students at Northeast, if there is a child who is falling behind in his or her classwork, Latika Cockrell is there to help. Cockrell not only helps students, but teachers in their tasks throughout the day.
She is a teacher’s assistant for fourth grade at Northeast. She provides remedial help to students falling behind in their studies during their recess period and during regular classroom instruction.
Casey is thankful for Cockrell’s help in her classroom and says it benefits students. However, Casey believes the best help a student can receive outside of school is from their parents. She notes that students who score higher in their studies have parents who are actively involved in their education, and the opposite is true for those with lower scores.
A great working environment also helps the learning environment, and the principals at Northeast work to create such a space. The principals believe in teamwork and helping students reach the full potential.
Lisa Shelly, principal, is said to be positive and dedicated to her students and teachers. Casey said having Shelly as principal has “[made] a huge difference with teacher morale.”
Just as much can be said about Northeast Lauderdale Elementary’s assistant principal, Angie Nelson. “Kids, parents, everyone loves Mrs. Nelson,” Casey said.
Casey’s advice to anyone seeking an education. “Stay focused, be flexible,” she said. “Remember you are here for [the students]. You may not be [doing things] as fast as other classrooms, but that is okay.”