TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Shanda Banks-Dixion teaches science with hands-on experiments

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, January 12, 2022

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.

Shanda Banks-Dixion works to motivate her students to learn science with everyday resources.

Banks-Dixion, a Vicksburg Junior High School science teacher, said she engages her students with hands-on science experiments.

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 “I find that when students can physically touch things to see how they work, they are more engaged,” Banks-Dixion said. 

Banks-Dixion is a finalist for the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Educator of the Year award. The chamber will select and announce one elementary and one secondary teacher of the year at the chamber luncheon, which has been rescheduled to Mar. 1. 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. 

Banks-Dixion started teaching at Vicksburg Junior High School as a 7th-grade science lab teacher. Later on, she became the 7th and 8th-grade science teacher for Vicksburg Junior High School. She earned an associates’ degree in business office technology at Antonelli College, a bachelor’s degree in biology from Alcorn State University and received a master’s degree in workforce education from Alcorn State University. 

“I believe that keeping a high level of motivation in a science classroom is one of the best ways to make the whole process more efficient,” she said.

In her Educator of the Year application, Banks-Dixion said she aims for a teaching method that helps her students understand real-world problems. In the classroom, she uses technology as a tool to explain real-world issues, which also helps increase student engagement along with them becoming better learners. 

Banks-Dixion said she wants students to feel empowered to take the initiative to use various technological resources to learn about what is going on in the world.

 “I try to use real-world scenarios and deal with real-world problems in the classroom to make learning more meaningful to students,” she said. “Sometimes, it helps to spark excitement in gaining knowledge about important issues.”