Pearl Schools Select 2021-2022 Teachers of the Year

Annually, Pearl Public School District participates in the Teacher of the Year program sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Education. This program honors the outstanding accomplishments of public school teachers across the state. The Pearl Public School District Board of Trustees recently recognized the 2021-2022 Teachers of the Year from each of the five schools in the district.


The Pearl Lower Elementary Teacher of the Year is Leslie Poe.

Mrs. Poe, a special services teacher at PLE, is in her 20th year as an educator. She has a Bachelor’s in elementary education from Belhaven University. She has a passion for working with children and preparing them to meet life's challenges. The teachable moments are the motivation for her and continue to inspire her to be the best teacher she can be.


Mrs. Canda Jackson, PLE Principal, had this to say about Mrs. Poe: “Mrs. Poe is an outstanding member of our faculty at Pearl Lower Elementary.  She facilitates instruction to our academically diverse students by targeting instruction to meet each student at his/her level.  Her instruction is engaging and intentional for each of her students. We are blessed to have her as a dedicated member of our faculty.”


The Northside Elementary Teacher of the Year is Melissa Parks.

Ms. Parks is a third-grade math teacher at Northside Elementary. She is in her 9th year of teaching. Ms. Parks has a bachelor’s and master’s in elementary education from Mississippi State University. Mrs. Parks said, “Being a teacher, to me, is not just about teaching. It’s about making connections with children and giving them a reason to want to come to school and learn.”


When asked to describe Ms. Parks, Dr. Nikki Graham, PNE Principal, said, “Melissa Parks loves teaching!  When you walk into her room, it is evident that teaching is her calling and that no amount of testing will ever take that love away. Her students are always engaged in whatever the lesson is. Her students are learning and having fun while doing so!  Melissa Parks is a blessing to PPSD and to the Northside family!”


The Pearl Upper Elementary Teacher of the Year is Shannon Traweek.

Mrs. Traweek, a fourth-grade math teacher at PUE, is currently in her 21st year of teaching with all her experience in Pearl Public School District. She holds a Bachelor's Degree from Belhaven University. Mrs. Traweek knew from a very young age that she was going to be a teacher. Mrs. Traweek said, “I love not only teaching children academics but also helping them to believe and find confidence within themselves. As a teacher, that brings me so much joy.”


Mr. Gavin Gill, Principal at Pearl Upper, said “Mrs. Traweek goes above and beyond for her classes; she goes out of her way to reach every student. Her math classes are fun, and the students love her. She serves on numerous committees/clubs at PUE and is a fantastic leader. Mrs. Traweek exemplifies what it means to be a true ’Pearl Pirate’ by living out the Pearl Public School District mission in everything she undertakes.”

The Pearl Junior High School Teacher of the Year is Ginny Hobby.

Mrs. Hobby is a special services teacher at Pearl Junior High School. With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, Mrs. Hobby is in her 35th year as an educator. Both Mrs. Hobby’s husband, who is also an educator, and her students inspire her to think outside the box and to strive to do better than she did the day before.


When asked about Mrs. Hobby, PJHS Principal Mr. John Wallace said, “Mrs. Hobby is the epitome of a lifelong educator. She devotes so much time to her students and their well-being, spending countless hours in the summer and long days during the year to prepare and guide her students. Mrs. Hobby works very hard to make sure she has a loving and caring relationship with all of her students, encouraging and pushing them to reach their goals, and she teaches them the importance of responsibility and respect. We would be at a loss without Mrs. Hobby.”


The Pearl High School Teacher of the Year is Casey Hunter.

Mrs. Hunter, a math teacher at Pearl High School, is currently in her 12th year of teaching. She has a bachelor's degree in secondary mathematics education from Mississippi State University. Seeing her students believe in themselves drives her daily. Mrs. Hunter said, “Every day that I teach, I get to live out my ‘why’ and fulfill my purpose.”


Mr. Chris Chism, PHS Principal, says “Mrs. Casey Hunter is truly one of my favorite success stories in teaching.  Her growth as a teacher over the last few years has been exponential, and those efforts to improve her craft have shown up in each classroom she leads.  Mrs. Hunter loves everyone here at PHS in a big way.  She volunteers to sponsor different groups, and she can always be seen in the stands supporting every group here – all the while, managing her own family and navigating the waters of being the wife of a head coach.  It has truly been my privilege and pleasure to work with Mrs. Hunter over the last 7 years, and I am very pleased that our faculty selected her to represent our school as PHS Teacher of the Year.”


From these five teachers, the 2021-2022 Pearl Public School District Teacher of the Year will be selected. A panel consisting of educators and laypeople from outside the district will evaluate these teachers’ application packets and conduct personal interviews. One teacher will be recommended to represent the district in the state-level program.



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