Readers of The Post honor Redwood Elementary’s Pettway

Published 12:19 pm Thursday, December 3, 2020

By Anna Kate Doiron/The Vicksburg Post


Growing up in Vicksburg, Erin Pettway had her fair share of influential teachers. She recognized the impact a teacher can have on the life of a child and decided to pursue a career in elementary education.

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While her path has taken her from classrooms in Hinds County to Fort Worth, Texas, Pettway is a now a fourth-grade teacher at Redwood Elementary. She was recently named “Best Preschool/Elementary Teacher” in The Vicksburg Post’s annual Reader’s Choice Awards.

That honor is one Pettway cherishes and humbly credits to almost anyone but herself.

“In my mind, I am not the greatest teacher,” she said. “I have just been very fortunate and blessed to be surrounded by great teachers, friends and family. I hope that in some way the best of what I have learned from them is shown through me. I am very honored to be selected and hope that I, along with my work, live up to the expectations of this award.”

Pettway credits a number of positive influences in her life that have helped form who she is today. Many of these relationships, she said, were made while she was in school or working in a school.

Pettway’s mother, Nancy May Purvis, passed away when she was only 18. She began studying at Hinds a few months later and, as if on cue, Terry Parish walked into her life.

Parish was once just her professor, but today Pettway refers to her as her “God Mom,” who inspired her to become a teacher.

“Terry saw potential in me and came into my life at a time when I was in great need,” Pettway said. “She even walked in place and memory of my own mom at my wedding. She has been a blessing to my entire family.”

Pettway works hard to be the same positive influence on her students that she experienced from teachers growing up. She creates lessons that both she and the students can relate to and enjoy.

Some days she even brings her dog, Vegas, to teach children non-academic lessons that will stick with them beyond the classroom. Vegas visited the students on Valentine’s Day, and the class made dog treats that were then donated to the Vicksburg Animal Shelter and the Warren County Humane Society. One of the most important lessons Pettway teaches is how students can contribute to the community, even at such a young age.

As for the recent “Best of the Best” honor, Pettway dedicates this award to her late mother and strives every day to exhibit her hard work and love and appreciation for family and friends.

“She was always kind and had an amazing work ethic,” Pettway said. “I hope to be more like her every day and pray that I may impact others the way she did.”