2016 Teacher of the Year


Dear Fellow Educators,

            Welcome to a bright new school year full of adventure and excitement!!!! First and foremost, I would like to thank you for choosing this profession. The teaching profession is not one that ever receives the credit that it deserves because teachers, by trade, are selfless individuals who only want what is best for others.

            About 2 months ago, I was honored in my hometown for being chosen as Mississippi’s Teacher of the Year. To my surprise, I was given a key to the city of Gautier. It was not until later that evening that I realized the magnitude of this rare gift. I know that in reality it is simply a key that unlocks nothing, but in our lives there are so many inanimate objects that symbolize so much more when we actually take the time to think about them. As my husband and I talked, I explained to him that this key meant so much to me because it was a symbol of my childhood and the people and places that had helped to shape the person that I am today--comfort, security, friendly faces, loving family members, and the fond memories I have of growing up in Gautier. I started to think about the fact that the first key most kids own is their house key. To the literal minds of children, it’s simply a tool used to get in and out of their homes before and after school, but to us, as adults, it represents so much more than that. Now that we are older and understand the sacrifice and hard work it takes to build a home, we can appreciate the symbolism of this key on a much greater level. I want each of you to think about what your home really means to you and truly evaluate what about your home makes you the person that you are. Once you have done that, I want you to think about the kids you will come to know and love throughout this year. Then, work tirelessly to be those things for those children. Be that kind ear, that gentle smile, that tough love, that never ending motivator, and that forever cheerleader that ALL of our kids need at some point in their lives. Show your kids that your room can be their safe haven and that it is completely acceptable to let those walls down and open up to the idea of becoming something greater than what they may have imagined before they entered your room. Because one thing will always remain true my friends, teachers hold the keys that help unlock the doors of the amazing futures waiting for our children to explore.

            My philosophy and platform for education is simple; I give every child the exact same things that I would give my own children. I never know what kind of day that student is having, but I do know that I can nurture them each day and never doubt just how fantastic their futures can be.

             I would like to challenge each of you to begin this new adventure with a positive outlook and to continue working to instill pride and inspiration in the hearts and minds of our precious children. I hope you all have a bright, successful year, and never forget to let your light shine so that others may shine too!!!!!

Warmest Blessings,

Jodi L. McKenzie,
2016-2017 Mississippi Teacher of the Year

Mississippi Teachers of the Year



School/District at time of selection


Earnestine Madison

Vicksburg High School, Vicksburg


Imogene Thompson

Meridian School District, Meridian


JoAnne Reid

Weir Attendance Center, Weir


Tommy Williams

Wingfield High School, Jackson


Martha H. Morrow

Columbia Primary School, Columbia


Bess Moffatt

Pascagoula High School, Pascagoula


Carol Madden

Wingfield High School, Jackson


Zelma Conerly

Lawhon Jr. High School, Tupelo


Edward Wong

Vicksburg High School, Vicksburg


Nelle DeLoach Elam

Starkville High School, Starkville


J. P. Luby

Holly Bluff Line School, Holly Bluff


Mary L. Davidson

MS School for Mathematics and Science, Columbus


Betty Whitlock

Clinton High School, Clinton


Lois Eve Rodgers

Hattiesburg High School, Hattiesburg


Carolyn Cadney

Biloxi High School, Biloxi


Sheba Brown

Jeff Davis Elementary School, Biloxi


Julie A. Ferris

Webster Elementary School, Yazoo City


Martha Hutson

Sumner Hill High School, Clinton


Tina Scholtes

Sudduth Elementary School, Starkville


Mary Beth Boyer-Black

Amory High School, Amory


Jackie Parker

Tupelo Middle School, Tupelo


Renee Moore

Broad Street High School, Shelby 


Dr. Paul Cuicchi

Starkville High School, Starkville


Andrew Lark

Starkville High School, Starkville


Dr. Christina Daniels

Picayune Center for Alternative Education, Picayune


Betty Belinda Hopkins

Saltillo Elementary, Lee County


Lee James

Choctaw County Career and Technology Center, Choctaw County


Cheryl Beene

Center Hill High School, DeSoto County


Chantelle Herchenhahn

Forest High School, Forest Municipal


Stacey Donaldson

Murrah High School, Jackson Public


Brad A. Shonk

Groenflo Elementary School, Biloxi Public


Birdette Hughey

Greenwood High School, Greenwood Public


Stacey Todd

Oak Grove High School, Lamar County School District
2013  Joshua Lindsey
Hancock High School, Hancock County Schools

2014  Mary Margarett King

New Albany High School, New Albany Schools
2015  Anna Morris

Oak Grove Lower Elementary School, Lamar County School District
2016  Jodi McKenzie

Gautier High School, Pascagoula Gautier School District
Mississippi Teacher Center     P.O. Box 771     Jackson, MS 39205-0771     Phone: (601) 359-3631     Fax: (601) 359-1728

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