Two teachers honored at annual banquet

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 31, 2003

Mississippi Department of Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall ducks his head as Sen. Tim Johnson of Madison comes to serenade him during the Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce banquet Thursday night. At left is Cheryl Brown, wife of Chamber Board President Donald Brown. At right is Hall’s wife, Jennifer Hall. (Melanie Duncan ThortisThe Vicksburg Post)

The two teachers selected Thursday as educators of the year by the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce said accepting the award was an honor because of their love for students and teaching.

Fellecchia Epps and Denice Poe received the awards at the chamber’s banquet and annual meeting at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

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“The first thing on my mind when I wake up in the morning is whose life can I touch or what difference can I make that day,” said Epps, who was named secondary educator of the year for her work at Vicksburg High School where she is a science teacher.

“I appreciate the support of the faculty, the student body and the administration,” Epps said.

She has been employed with the Vicksburg Warren School District since 1989.

Poe is a kindergarten teacher at Bowmar Elementary School and received the elementary educator of the year award.

“This is a reminder of how important it is to teach children and help them enjoy learning,” she said.

Poe’s teaching career started 21 years ago at Tallulah Elementary School in Tallulah.

“This is a great honor because I have a love for children and teaching,” she said.

She has been employed with the school district since 1986.

Chamber President Don Brown said it is difficult to narrow teachers nominated by their schools into choices for the annual awards.

“All of the teachers are equally outstanding,” he said. “These two are a fine example of what the Vicksburg Warren School District has to offer.”

Brown will continue his post as chamber president in 2003. He is the first president to serve back-to-back terms since Sam Price served in 1945 and 1946.

Jane Flowers, 2002 chairman of the Economic Development Foundation, passed the gavel to Rusty Hawkins for the upcoming year.

Mississippi Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall, who serves as commissioner for the Central District, which covers 22 counties including Warren County, spoke to the crowd of about 300. He cited the Mississippi River, the railroad and Interstate 20 as growth opportunities for the Vicksburg area.

“Transportation has shaped this city and this state and it will shape the future,” he said.

He named widening Mississippi 22 between Vicksburg and Canton, rebuilding I-20 and widening Mississippi 27 to Crystal Springs as priorities for the Vicksburg and Warren County area. Hall called on state legislators to not use one-time funding to pay for the state’s recurring debt.

The chamber also recognized retiring board members, ambassadors of the quarter and year, and members of the quarter.

The Vicksburg Retirement Development recognized retiree volunteers of the year and presented the Retirement Community Champion Award to Diane Gawronski, director of marketing and public relations for River Region Health System.

Sen. Tim Johnson of Madison, who is also an Elvis Presley impersonator, drew laughs from the crowd as he crooned some of the King’s hits and danced with guests.