Warren Central Intermediate teacher didn’t envision a teaching career

Published 9:44 am Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Veronica Jefferies’ love for mathematics took her career to a place she didn’t know she wanted it to go.

She is a fifth grade math and science teacher at Warren Central Intermediate School.

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“I love science, and I love math even more,” she said. “Math is my thing. I love to see the kids light up when they’re learning.”

Jefferies has been a teacher for 13 years and 10 of those years have been spent in the Vicksburg Warren School District — one year at Vicksburg Junior High and nine at WCI. She spent her first three years in Madison Parish Schools and Jackson Public Schools.

Jefferies loves to watch her students grow and learn, and she feels she has the right temperament for the job. Helping people has always been something she has gravitated toward doing.

“I love helping people whether they are children or whether they are adults. I love working with people. I felt like I have the patience and I have the time,” she said.

Jefferies likes to use hands-on activities in her classroom because she said students retain the information better when it is tied in with real life examples. In math, she is currently teaching a unit on decimals and will soon start teaching fractions. In science, the students have been learning about mixtures, solutions, elements and compounds.

“I try to tie everything into real life. Like with mixtures, I taught them that a trail mix is a mixture,” she said. “I give them that real life situation so they know.”

Next, the class will learn about motion, balanced forces and unbalanced forces through arm wrestling.

Jefferies spends time during the summer going to conferences and workshops for professional development. Last year, she was chosen by the Mississippi Department of Education to help write a curriculum.

“Two teachers in the district got selected, and I was one of them, to write math lesson plans for the state of Mississippi,” she said. “The year before that I did a workshop at Jackson State with the math department and it was for six weeks.”

Jefferies wrote a grant during that summer at JSU and won her classroom $500, which she used to purchase Base Ten Blocks to teach her students math concepts like adding and subtracting decimals, fractions and whole numbers.

She attends these functions each summer because she wants to better herself and enhance her teaching skills.

“Every summer I’m signing up and it’s not for pay. I’m working the whole summer,” Jefferies said. “It’s not mandatory for me to go. I’m just looking at ways to better myself so I can bring it back to the classroom so my children can be successful on the state test and successful throughout the whole school year in the classroom.”

The Greenville native was an all ‘A’ student and was in the top 10 of her graduating class. She said she always strove for good grades, but when she lost her mother to cancer at 15, it pushed her even harder to excel.

“That was my motivation to be successful,” she said.

Even though Jefferies had her heart set on attending Delta State University, she received an academic scholarship to Alcorn State University and took the opportunity there with aspirations of becoming a pediatric nurse.

“I had an academic scholarship to Alcorn State University, which was not on my list to attend. I was a nursing major going there and got straight into nursing school. Going into my last semester I said, ‘OK, this is not for me.’ I couldn’t deal with patients dying on me and the surgeries,” she said.

Some of her friends encouraged her to consider education, which again was not on her list of options.

“That was not even in my vocabulary,” she said.

She changed her major and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology and earned her master’s degree in elementary education.

Sometimes the challenges of teaching make her wonder about what could have been if she had become a nurse, but them she remembers how fortunate she is to be able to work with children — something she truly enjoys.

Jefferies was voted Teacher of the Year for Warren Central Intermediate during the 2008-2009 school year.

She met her husband Antonio at Alcorn. They have three daughters Alexis, Amber and Antonica. The family has lived in Vicksburg since 2003.