Lawrence County Teacher Academy Students Gain Experience in Local Classrooms

Lawrence County High School Junior Teacher Academy student D'Ann Turnage (back row, second from left), poses with Rod Paige Middle School students last academic year. While mentoring under RPMS staff, Turnage led group activities, read the adapted version of  The Jungle Book and worked one-on-one with young learners and groups of students.

Lawrence County Teacher Academy students gained hands-on experience in the last academic year while working one or two hours each week in local classrooms.

Teacher Academy I students worked at Monticello Elementary School, while Teacher Academy II students served at Rod Paige Middle School. Time spent in the classroom under mentor teachers gave students insight to elementary and middle school classroom settings and the requirements of teaching in Mississippi. The mentor teachers at these locations are valuable to the Teacher Academy program and demonstrate instructional strategies for meeting state curriculum goals and classroom management and positive behavior strategies students can use in their future classrooms.

As students completed observations, they reflected on their time spent in the classrooms. They reported what objectives the teacher covered; instructional strategies used; what they did in the classroom, from tutoring and working on bulletin boards to reading aloud with students and working in centers; things that occurred during their visits; and things they would do differently if they oversaw the classroom.

Following each written reflection, students shared with their peers what they gained from the week’s observation. Sharing what they observed in classrooms gave them a wealth of knowledge that will shape who they want to be in their future classrooms.

Peyton Lindsay, a first-year Teacher Academy student, spent several weeks under the mentorship of Anna Wilson and said really enjoyed working with her students.

“It will be my goal to help young minds succeed. My teaching strategies will be a lot like Mrs. Wilson’s. She did a lot of things to help students excel in their work,” Lindsay said. “One thing I would do like her would be to reward students by giving them fake cash, make them earn their way up and let them choose a reward when they got enough cash to ‘buy’ something.”

Janna Spencer, another first-year Teacher Academy student, said she would make sure her future students all have classroom jobs.

“I want to be a proactive teacher. My lessons will be highly interactive, and my students will stay engaged,” she said. “The activities will be varied to meet the needs of all learners.”

“During this semester, I feel like I have gathered more knowledge about the diversity of different classrooms, teachers and the way that the educational field works,” said Haley Perrien, a second-year Teacher Academy student who mentored under Beverly Draughdrill in a gifted setting and under Carolyn Smith in an English Language Arts classroom.

Perrien said she would use both classroom experiences to build her own personal teaching methods and educational philosophy.

Mentor teachers welcomed their Teacher Academy students. They enjoyed having extra help and sharing their own experiences. The amount of time Teacher Academy students spend under the guidance of mentor teachers and inside the classroom gives them a head start on teacher education programs they will see later in college and will make them better teachers for Mississippi’s classrooms.


Connections is the magazine for K-12 career and technical education (CTE) in Mississippi. The biannual publication features students, educators, schools, and organizations from approximately 50 career pathways across 16 career clusters. This Mississippi Department of Education publication is produced by the Research and Curriculum Unit at Mississippi State University. Issues are disseminated in print and electronic forms in May and December each year.

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