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Barnes uses daily applications in her math lessons

Connecting with her students and teaching math in everyday situations in how Sherra Barnes approaches her classroom.

The sixth grade math teacher is Beechwood Elementary’s Teacher of the Year.

Recently Barnes taught a lesson on comparing prices. The class used grocery store advertisements to determine the price of an item by ounce. Barnes said many of her student’s parents have thanked her for teaching their children how to help them find the best deal on groceries.

“I believe if you can make a connection to real life, the students care more about what they are learning and why it’s important,” she said.

In fact, many of her lessons center around food and money. Barnes uses Black Friday ads to teach percentages and restaurant menus to teach how to figure taxes and tips. It is her goal to show students that they will use math every day in the real world.

“It is real world applications that make math relevant to the students,” Barnes said.

In addition to teaching math to students, she also takes time to get to know her students. Barnes likes to motivate her class to do the best they can every day. By cultivating relationships with them, she feels it helps set them up for success.

“Teaching lessons that are encouraging, motivational, and inspiring helps to build relationships, which are a vital component to the success we have in the classroom,” Barnes said. “We are a team working together to win. If they don’t buy in to what I’m teaching, they won’t engage in the learning process.”

One of her favorite parts of teaching, is the age group she teaches. Barnes enjoys the sixth grade because the children are old enough to talk and joke with, and it is also a time in their life where she feels like she can be there for the children through their growing pains.

“Sixth grade was a tough time for me personally, and I just love being there (for them). My favorite teacher was my sixth grade teacher and her name was Andra Bonelli,” she said. “I remember the fun things we did in her room. It was the year my house burned. She just took me in and mothered me.”

Barnes has taught at Beechwood for all 23 years of her career as a computer, third, fifth and sixth grade teacher.

“I teach because God said I had to,” she said.

Barnes has two bachelor’s degrees — one in educational psychology and one is elementary education, both from Mississippi State University. Her first degree focused more on gifted students, and she decided she wanted to get the second degree to be more inclusive of all students.

Her master’s degree is in instructional technology and is also from MSU.

Twenty-one teachers in Warren County were nominated for teacher of the year.

The Vicksburg Warren County Chamber of Commerce has selected a panel of educators to interview each school’s chosen teacher and will choose one elementary and one secondary teacher of the year on Feb. 15.

Both teachers will receive $1,000.

Today’s story is the 11th in a series of articles on each teacher up for the honor of the Vicksburg Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Teacher of the Year.