TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Staria Russell keeps her lessons interesting

Published 8:00 am Sunday, February 20, 2022

By Vera Ann Fedell | The Vicksburg Post

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.

Staria Russell, a 6th-grade English language arts teacher at Beechwood Elementary, said that she strives to make lessons relevant and interesting.

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Russell 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. 

Russell began teaching in 1997 as a 6th-grade teacher at University Christian School in Flowood, Miss. She then taught kindergarten at McLaurin Elementary in Brandon, Miss. in 1997. She then went back to University Christian School to teach 4th grade in 2004.  In 2012, Russell started teaching at A.W. Watson Elementary School in Port Gibson, Miss. as a kindergarten teacher. Russell then began teaching at Redwood Elementary as a kindergarten teacher. Starting in 2017, began teaching 5th grade as an English and language arts teacher at Beechwood Elementary. 

Russell received a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Mississippi College in 1997. She later obtained a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Mississippi College in 2020. 

As stated in her Educator of the Year application, Russell has a lesson on idioms that requires students to define idioms and how they are used in literature and speech. Russell stated that part of the lesson involves her students creating a dictionary of idioms and their definitions along with illustrations of their literal interpretation. 

As mentioned in her application, students also have the chance to choose a “secret” idiom and come dressed up as the idiom in its literal interpretation. During class, the students all guess each other’s “secret” idiom.

“I believe the learning process was exciting, fun and relevant for the students, especially when they share their own idioms,” Russell said.