Meet the Teach

Published 12:05 am Sunday, August 24, 2014

Patty Godfrey

Patty Godfrey

When Patty Godfrey graduated from the University of Mississippi Law School, she did not know that in 2014 she would be one of the most highly regarded teachers at Warren Central High School.
However, Godfrey knew that teaching was her true passion.
Now, Godfrey teaches three honors English classes, two regular English classes, and an ACT preparation course.
She has always felt a strong pull towards teaching, even while she was a partner of Godfrey and Godfrey Law Firm with her husband, Sam Godfrey — who later became an ordained minister.
“I have always loved to work with young people and I feel like it’s as much of a call as ordained ministry,” she said.
After her husband went into the ministry, she briefly became a stay-at-home mom, before becoming a part-time teacher at Magnolia Heights Academy in Senatobia. She eventually became a full-time English teacher, spending 11 years at the northern Mississippi school before coming to Vicksburg to work.
The subject appeals to Godfrey, she said because “anything and everything falls under the umbrella of English.”
Her favorite historical topic to weave into her lessons is the first Roman emperor, Julius Caesar. Relating his exploits to students 2,000 years later gives her a unique opportunity to teach them about life.
“It’s about politics, power and people that want to dominate the world.
“People don’t really change that much,” she added.
Godfrey said she likes seeing her students mature through the year..
“My kids are starting to think about colleges and careers,” she said.
Preparing students for their future and making English relevant to them are two of her top priorities.
“I’ll have kids ask, ‘why do I need this,” she said.
Her answer? Reading comprehension is one of the most important facets of life.
Students need reading comprehension so that they, for instance, can understand government documents.
Mississippi’s new state education standards — Common Core State Standards — allow a renewed focus on literacy; something that Godfrey is eager to embrace.
“We’re going deeper; they are writing more,” she said.
Currently, Godfrey is teaching her students about the Holocaust. They are reading “Night,” by Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel.
Common Core, she said, gives her the chance to delve deeper to Wiesel’s story.
“We bring in the poetry of that time, the laws — we bring in all of that,” she said.
With the chance to go deeper into individual works, her class more willingly embraces the lessons, she said.
“It just grabs them.”
Giving students the opportunity to read something they like, without tests or quizzes attached, is another way Godfrey said she engages students’ interest in reading.
She keeps a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf stocked with novels, both fiction and nonfiction to keep a wide variety of students interested.
“We need help,” she added, “We’ve got smart kids. We need to give them the resources to succeed.”

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