Westerfield brings a personal connection to her students’ education
This article is part of a series by The Vicksburg Post, in partnership with the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce, featuring each of the nominees for teacher of the year honors.
For Elizabeth Westerfield, her 30 years of teaching is made up of more than just lessons, tests and grades, it is made up of memories and having a positive, memorable impact on the children she has been entrusted to teach.
“I have had the privilege of teaching many wonderful and memorable students in my career,” Westerfield said. “I have learned that success can come in many different ways. It can be the shy child who shines in a music program or the struggling student that finally understands the standard algorithm in long division.
“But I am most moved when students who have grown up see me about town and say ‘Remember me?’ That tells me that I was memorable to them.”
Westerfield, a fourth-grade teacher at Porter’s Chapel Academy, is one of the teachers nominated for the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Teacher of the Year awards.
The chamber will select and announce one elementary and one secondary teacher of the year at the chamber luncheon on Feb. 25. 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.
Westerfield, who is originally from an area near Plymouth, Mass., received her bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Southern Maine. She spent her first 10 years of education in Maine before moving to Vicksburg and joining the staff at Sherman Avenue Elementary.
She spent 18 years at Sherman Avenue as a second and third-grade teacher before moving to Porter’s Chapel.
And it was that time growing up in Massachusetts that actually has provided a learning connection for her students.
In her Teacher of the Year application, Westerfield laid out she used her connection to the Plymouth area to better connect students to the Pilgrims, Native Americans and the Pilgrims’ landing at Plymouth Rock.
“It enabled the students to see and understand history in a more active way and to connect them to a different part of the country,” she said.
And as for the reason she has spent three decades teaching children from Maine to Mississippi, Westerfield said “I teach because it is all I ever wanted to do.”