Dean teaches to be every child’s hero

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Part of an ongoing series featuring the teachers nominated for Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Teacher of the Year honors.

Rachel Dean’s goal as a teacher is to educate, as well as influence, every student that steps foot into her classroom.

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“Teaching my heart out every day, watching that light bulb turn on in every student’s brain is the reason I wake up every morning and go to work,” Dean, a second grade teacher at Bowmar Elementary, said.

Dean, a Delta State University graduate, began her teaching career in 2010 as a pre-K teacher at Dana Road Elementary and believes she has had an impact on at least one student while at Dana Road.

“One of my students walked into my classroom on Hero Day dressed in a red skirt, a blonde wig, pink lipstick, and high heels,” Dean recalled. “I was confused at first – maybe she was dressed up as a news anchor or a Miss Mississippi pageant contestant. She walked up with the biggest grin on her face with an ID badge that read ‘Mrs. Dean.’ I immediately broke down in tears. This sweet four-year-old dressed like me. I was her hero.”

The desire to teach is something Dean has always wanted to do.

“I decided to become a teacher because of my love for children,” Dean said. “When my students grow up, I want them to say, ‘Mrs. Dean was my favorite teacher because she loved us and cared for us.’ I want to be a teacher that makes a difference in every child’s life.”

She said seeing the light bulb go off in a child’s eyes is what she enjoys most about teaching.

“I enjoy seeing the love of learning in my students,” Dean said. “When a child is working hard to understand what you’ve been teaching, and they get it and are excited about it, it is the best, most powerful feeling.”

Being recognized by her peers at Bowmar is an honor for Dean.

“Bowmar is filled with educators that are, in my opinion, the best of the best,” Dean said. “To be selected among them and by them is very humbling and rewarding.”

The Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce will choose one elementary and one secondary teacher of the year at the chamber luncheon Feb. 20. The winner of each award will receive $1,000 from Ameristar Casino and the runner-up for each award will receive $500 from Mutual Credit Union.

Dean said she hopes if she is selected as the top educator, she would cry at first, but continue to be the best teacher she can for her students and an example for other teachers.

“I would continue to encourage other teachers to not give up on their passion and always remember the reason why they chose this profession.

“Teaching is my passion, my calling in life, and I cannot picture myself doing anything else.”