News Releases

Oak Grove High School Special Education Teacher Selected as 2012 Mississippi Teacher of the Year

by Betty Ezelle | May 11, 2012

Press Release:
For Immediate Release

Jackson, Miss – Stacey Todd, a special education teacher from Oak Grove High School, is Mississippi’s 2012 Teacher of the Year. Todd was chosen from four finalists Friday at a luncheon held in Jackson. The Mississippi Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Education and the Mississippi Teacher Center.

Todd comes from a family of teachers including her mother and father, but she says, it was a career path she almost didn’t take. Todd admits school was not a priority as a teenager. During college, however, it was those teenage years that inspired her to teach students just like her younger self.
“While in college, I decided that I wanted to teach high school and hopefully deter students from the same destructive path I had taken,” said Todd. “Because I have always been a “root for the underdog” type, special education seemed like a natural fit.”

Todd says her philosophy on teaching is simple: Every student can learn, but every student does not learn the same way. She strives for each of her students to achieve as much independence as possible by shaping her lessons to each student’s individual learning ability.

“I will strive to maintain a passion for learning in my classroom and see each student as unique and deserving of my best,” said Todd.

Todd’s superintendent says the entire school district is extremely proud of her.
“The passion she brings to the classroom has changed attitudes in our community and with our general education students in regards to our students with disabilities.  Mrs. Todd being named teacher of the year is certainly well deserved,” said Dr. Ben Burnett, Lamar County Schools Superintendent.

Todd’s efforts in her class are even recognized by students in the general education classes at Oak Grove High School.

“Mrs. Todd’s burning desire is to bridge the gap between mainstream and students with disabilities-one that I am thankful to say seems to be contagious. In her years at Oak Grove, she has opened the door in her classroom and broken down the imaginary wall that for so long separated “us” from “them”, said Oak Grove senior, Sydney Sanders.

Todd also believes fully in student community involvement. Along with four other teachers, Todd started the Jr. Civitan Club so her students could interact and serve with their general education peers. So far so good Todd says as the club has raised over $5,000 and includes 155 general education and special education students. “As an educator, a mother and Christian, it is my responsibility to lead by example. I want my students and my own children to understand the importance of serving their community,” said Todd.

Stacey Todd is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and holds a Master’s degree from the University of Phoenix. Todd is a member of the Mississippi Professional Educators. She and her husband, Brian, have two children, Madison and Jackson.

Teacher of the Year Finalists

The 2012 Mississippi Alternate Teacher of the Year is Julie Heintz. Ms. Heintz represents the First Congressional District and works at the Mississippi School for Math and Science. Heintz is a National Board Certified teacher and teaches History, Geography, Government and Physical Education. Heintz was named teacher of the year by the Mississippi Historical Society in 2010 and the “Preserve America” Gilder Lehrman History teacher of the year the same year. She says one of the greatest advantages of choosing a career in teaching is that she is always learning along with her students.

The finalist from the Second Congressional District is Celeste Maugh from the Tunica County School District. Maugh is a math and science teacher at Dundee Elementary School and received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. Her principal credits Maugh as one of the reasons Dundee is a STAR school as well as a Mississippi Distinguished School. Maugh keeps a picture of her mother in her classroom as a reminder that she teaches to make a difference in the lives of children, just like her mother did.
The finalist from the Third Congressional District is Heather Maness. Maness has taught Biology and Zoology in the Forest Municipal School District for seven years. She received her Master’s degree in Education from Mississippi College in 2008. Maness became a teacher through the Mississippi Alternate Path for Quality Teachers after helping her husband who was a 4-H youth agent. Maness says as a biology teacher, she constantly strives to renew the innate curiosity in her students to ask “why” and then try to discover why the world works as it does.

About the Teacher of the Year Program

The Mississippi Teacher of the Year Program (MTOY):  The Mississippi Teacher Center (MSTC) recognizes outstanding educators from across the state.  Each school district selects a District Teacher of the Year.  From the entries, an intensive selection process results in four congressional district winners being selected, and one individual being named as Mississippi's Teacher of the Year.   MSTC hosts a symposium, which provides professional development sessions conducted by national, state, and local educators and a banquet or luncheon honors these outstanding District Teachers of the Year, congressional district winners, and the Mississippi Teacher of the Year. 

Mississippi's TOY receives a onetime $5,000 salary supplement from the Mississippi Department of Education and represents Mississippi in the National Teacher of the Year competition in Dallas. In addition, he/she travels to Washington, D.C., to meet the President and First Lady and participates in a Rose Garden recognition ceremony at the White House.  The MTOY is also asked to share expertise through various presentations and activities for the improvement of education in the state.


Dr. Lynn House, Deputy State Superintendent congratulates the 2012 Mississippi Teacher of the Year, Stacey Todd of Oak Grove High School.

Here is the link for this year’s award ceremony.



Office of Communications     P.O. Box 771     Jackson, MS 39205-0771     Phone: (601) 359-3515     Fax: (601) 359-3033

Copyright © 2012 Mississippi Department of Education
Website Accessibility StatementAgency Web DisclaimerNotice of Non-Discrimination