• 68°

Kitchens knows she was meant to teach

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

Teresa Kitchens said she teaches to inspire her students, but also to be inspired by them.

Kitchens, the Academy of Innovation nominee for the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Elementary Teacher of the Year, is a leadership teacher.

A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi College, she has been an educator for 15 years.

“I can’t think of a specific moment that I decided to become a teacher,” Kitchens, a leadership teacher for seventh- and eighth-graders at AOI, said. “I think back on my life and feel that the desire has always been there. I have always wanted to help children think about their future and to improve their lives. Being a teacher allows me to make a difference for my students.”

She has taught within the Vicksburg Warren School District at Beechwood Elementary, Warren Central Intermediate and Bovina Elementary. She enjoys the interaction with students.

“To see the light in their eyes when they suddenly understand something and to know that the lessons of today will benefit them for the rest of their lives, is a gift to me,” Kitchens said. “I am truly inspired by the uniqueness and greatness of each of my students. As a teacher, I teach, but I also learn. Young people have amazing talents and gifts to share. Their eagerness to learn encourages me to continue to explore and learn new things.”

Kitchens is honored to be the Teacher of the Year at AOI.

“I am very blessed to work with such a talented group of educators and am overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement that such an exceptional group of teachers nominated me,” Kitchens said.

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.

If selected as the top educator, Kitchens said it would be a great honor, “although I really teach for the students and not for the recognition.”

“I will continue to dedicate my life to teaching and inspiring my students regardless of whether or not I am selected,” Kitchens said.