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Teaching for Dixon is a ‘gift from God’

Ernest Dixon works to meet his students needs by adapting his teaching style to best serve the children.

Dixon, the Academy of Innovation Teacher of the Year, is a seventh and eighth grade digital media technology instructor.

Teaching digital media and technology allows Dixon to cover multiple units and lets his students delve into learning about a wide variety of occupations like animation, broadcast journalism, website development and writing and creating short films.

“The units my students learn prepare them for future projects and employment in the workforce,” he said.

It is important to him to let the students play a role in the classroom depending on what works best for each student. Dixon said he adapts his teaching style to fit his students’ needs.

“I adopted a facilitator type style that emphasizes student-centered learning with students who are comfortable with independent learning,” Dixon said.

He also places emphasis on preparing for lessons. Being organized and utilizing resources, he said, is vital for all educators. As he plans and sets the lesson’s learning objectives, he takes into account each students’ abilities.

Dixon takes advantage of using all kinds of technology in class from Skype to Google software, and said the use of the Leader In Me in his classroom has been invaluable.

Students often enter the class not sure what to expect, but by working together as a team, he said their concerns are put at ease.

“Many students entered the course with fear in understanding that the course was new to the district, and the curriculum was developed at Mississippi State University. I eased my students’ fear by encouraging cooperation among learners facilitating the cross-pollination of ideas and information,” Dixon said.

He most enjoys the moments when students catch on to a concept and have learned something from what he has taught. 

“To see them finally get it is what really makes it worthwhile,” he said.

Dixon has an associate degree in secondary education from Hinds Community College in Raymond and a will receive a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Delta State University this year, making him certified to teach kindergarten through 12th grade. Next, he plans to enroll in the administration leadership program at Mississippi State University.

“I always wanted to be a teacher, even from a young age,” he said.

When Dixon was a younger he would take his old school work and pretend to be a teacher at home with his siblings. He said the inspiration to become an educator came for the great teachers he had growing up who were role models to him. Dixon also saw a lack of male presence in schools and wanted that to change.

“From there it just kind of grew, my passion for education,” he said.

He spent three years as an assistant teacher and curriculum developer at Hinds. For two years, Dixon was an assistant computer technology teacher at Bovina Elementary before he moved to AOI last year.

In addition to teaching in the classroom, he is also a youth pastor at Trinity Temple Baptist Church.

“I teach because it is a God given talent,” he said.

He is a member of the Association of American Education, the Association for Middle Level Education, the Mississippi Educational Computing Association and the Mississippi Association of Education.

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 12th 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.