by: Mary Ryan Karnes
Oak Grove math teacher Suzie Welch helps students achieve inside the classroom, and her efforts have gained recognition statewide. Recently, Welch was nominated for and won the Alan R. Barton Award for Excellence in Teaching. Presented by Mississippi Power, the award is given annually to six outstanding teachers in grades K-12 across the state of Mississippi. Nominations are made by school principals and are limited to one per school. “Mr. Folkes nominated me, and I had to fill out an application. It asked me about some of my teaching methods, and I had to get letters of recommendation from students, parents, and administrators,” Welch said. She began the application process in the fall and found out that she had won at the end of January. The award is highly prestigious, and winning teachers receive $3,000 for their own use and $3,000 for supplies, equipment, and personal development. It is given annually to teachers who live within the Mississippi Power service area.
The Alan R. Barton award is not the first of Welch’s accomplishments. Last year, she received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math Teaching. This award, which is highly prestigious for teachers, gave Welch an opportunity to connect with other successful educators. “I got to go to Washington, D.C., for a week, and I met the President,” Welch said. “I met a lot of math and science teachers from all over the country as well.” In addition to these honors, Welch received $10,000 with the Presidential award. “Don’t tell me teaching doesn’t pay,” Welch said.
Welch, who incorporates technology such as iPod Touches, instructional videos, and online notes into her Pre-Calculus, Trigonometry, and AP Calculus classes, has gained the respect of not only statewide organizations like Mississippi Power but also her own students. “I think Ms. Welch is more than deserving for the Mississippi Power Award,” Chloe Sanders, a pre-calculus and trigonometry student, said. “She is an amazing woman and teacher.” Although Welch is thankful for state and nationwide recognition, she enjoys being in the classroom and interacting with her students most. On any given day, she can be found helping students with their math homework during advisor period. She says she enjoys what she does because she is allowed to impact many lives through her work. “Receiving honors is very nice, but my biggest reward as a teacher is witnessing the growth of my students over the course of time that I have them in my classroom,” Welch said.