Gardner knew her future was teaching

Published 7:34 pm Monday, February 11, 2019

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

Ebony Gardner was inspired by her mother and grandmother to help children, and in a way, guided her toward becoming a teacher.

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“I grew up in a home that was always full of children,” Gardner said. “My mother and grandmother were always willing to open their homes for other kids to provide any kind of support and love they could. So the tendency to be a nurturer was kind of bred into me. I can remember playing school with my friends, and I always had to be the teacher. As a teenager, I volunteered with youth groups or always had a job working with children. I guess I always knew I’d go into education because of my love for working with young people.”

Gardner, a nominee for the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Secondary Teacher of the Year, is an Algebra I teacher and swim coach at Vicksburg High School.

The University of Southern Mississippi graduate said working with students is challenging but very rewarding.

“I always say teaching is the hardest job, but it is the most rewarding job there is,” Gardner, who earned her masters at Mississippi College, said. “I get to work with some amazing students. They are bright, caring, crazy, and incredibly funny. It’s a difficult profession, but there is never a dull moment. There is absolutely no moment that can compare to when a student comes back to tell you ‘thank you’ and you didn’t even realize the impact you had on them.”

Gardner said being chosen Teacher of the Year at Vicksburg High School by her peers is extremely humbling. She began her 12-year teaching career in Hattiesburg before coming to Vicksburg as a fourth-grade math, science and social studies teacher at Vicksburg Intermediate School. She’s been at VHS since 2009.

“I have been selected as Teacher of the Year before for my school, so I never expected to be chosen again,” Gardner said. “It means a lot that my coworkers can see how hard I try to work to serve my students and our school.”

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.

Gardner said it is her “plan to try and set an example for my peers, regardless of whether I’m chosen as the Teacher of the Year or not.”

“Teachers are our greatest resource and advocates for each other,” Gardner said. “So I plan to push the educators around me to be the best they can be as well.”

Gardner said she will continue to “work hard to pour into my students what has been poured into me.”

“This is my community. I grew up here, and it’s very important for me to give back,” Gardner said. “What better way to give back than by teaching my students, and the future of this community?”