TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Rachel Dean treats her students like family

Published 8:00 am Sunday, January 23, 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.

Rachel Dean teaches lessons she believes are more beneficial in the real world.

Dean is a second-grade teacher at Bowmar Elementary school who said she teaches students to develop a respectful, responsible and caring mindset. 

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“In my classroom, I ensure each child knows and understands that we are a family. We treat each other with respect and lift each other up,” Dean said. 

Dean 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. 

Dean began teaching at Dana Road Elementary in 2010 as a Pre-K teacher. Starting in 2016, she began teaching at Bowmar Elementary as a first-grade teacher and second-grade teacher. In 2007, Dean attended Hinds Community College. She then went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Delta State University in 2009. 

As stated in her Educator of the Year application, Dean uses the “bucket filler lesson” to help develop these positive attributes. 

“The purpose of the lesson is to get children thinking about their own thoughts and feelings and the thoughts and feelings of other people,” she said.

This lesson allows students to understand how their actions and words can affect their surroundings and themselves, Dean said. The lesson is taught with the book, “How Full is Your Bucket?” by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer, to explain the different levels of thoughts and emotions that are added in a person’s invisible bucket and how kind words and actions can add to the bucket, while disrespectful words and actions take away from the bucket as stated in her application. The students then apply what they have learned into practice. 

“It has helped shaped our classroom into a place of honesty, trustworthiness, kindness and respect,” Dean said.