Watkins begins 30th year in teaching

Published 7:53 pm Thursday, January 24, 2019

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

Belinda Watkins teaches to “look for the light bulb to come on in my students’ eyes.” She has been teaching for 30 years and is currently a fifth and sixth grade teacher at Porters Chapel Academy, her first year at PCA. She retired as an educator with the Vicksburg Warren School District at the end of the 2018 school year.

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She began her teaching career as a first grade teacher at Children’s House Montessori School before spending the last 28 years as a third grade teacher at Redwood Elementary School.

But after retiring at the end of the 2018 school year, Watkins still had the urge to teach and heard about the opening at PCA.

“I had such mixed emotions about not being able to teach,” Watkins said. “It was hard enough to leave my peers/family at Redwood, but not seeing my Redwood babies made the decision of retirement very difficult.

“I really prayed over this during the summer and asked God for help. That’s when I began getting calls about an opening at Porters Chapel Academy,” Watkins said. “What a blessing it is to be able to continue teaching. Teaching is truly a gift from God.”

The desire to teach is something Watkins said has been with her since she was a child.

“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher at a young age,” Watkins said. “I wanted to be the teacher that all students remember in a positive way.” 

She said seeing the smiling faces of her students as they enter her classroom each day is what she enjoys most about teaching.

“Every morning music is playing as the students make their way into the classroom and the singing begins,” Watkins said. “This allows for any worries they may have to disappear for a little while. I want my students to enjoy learning, be inquisitive, ask questions, and gain a strong self-esteem.

“I have always made sure I was the teacher where my students never wanted to miss my class, and always wanted to come back and see me.”

Being recognized by her peers at Porters Chapel Academy was a shock for Watkins.

“This is my first year at PCA and there are many great educators there,” Watkins said. “I am truly humbled by the opportunity to continue teaching and bringing my teaching techniques I used at Redwood Elementary to impact the students at Porters Chapel Academy.”

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.

Watkins said if she is selected as the top educator, she would not change a thing.

“I love what I do so much that I feel that I am rewarded daily by the laughter and smiles of my students.

“I teach because of the love I have for children,” Watkins said.