TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Clorissa Griffin brings the real world to the classroom

Published 8:00 am Friday, January 6, 2023

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. 

Clorissa Griffin, a fifth-grade science teacher at Vicksburg Intermediate School, ensures that her students are connected to the world by transforming her classroom into active learning sites. 

Griffin 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 on Feb. 15. 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. 

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“I believe that students should be presented with concrete examples, simulated real-life experiences and virtual tours when learning,” Griffin said. “This affords them the opportunity to make connections with the real world.”

An example of this is her lesson on the “Sun-Moon-Earth” systems. At the beginning of this lesson, students are asked to chart out the phases of the moon in their journals.

“Students entered a dark room, were asked to close their eyes, and then draw the image they recalled seeing last night’s sky,” Griffin said in her Educator of the Year application.

She begins to explain in her application how this lesson then allows her to teach her students about how moon phases, seasons and eclipses all occur during the “Sun-Moon-Earth” system.

Griffin began teaching in 2005 at Western Line School in Greenville, as a science teacher. In 2007, she became a middle school science teacher at Indianola Public School District in Indianola. She then started teaching at Weston High School in Greenville in 2008 as a science teacher for Biology I and Introduction to Biology. In 2013, she moved to Vicksburg and taught as a high school science teacher at Vicksburg High School for Physical Science, Introduction to Biology and English Language Arts. Then she became a fifth- and sixth-grade science teacher at Vicksburg Intermediate School. 

Griffin received her undergraduate degree from Mississippi Valley State University in Biology in 2004. She then got her master of science in general psychology at Purdue Global University in 2017. Griffin then obtained her master of arts degree in teaching arts at Jackson State University in 2021. 

In her classroom, students are able to “take the words off the paper and put the standard into action.”

An example she gave was the Blood Moon that appeared on Nov. 8, 2022, when she was giving her lesson on moon phases.

“Students now have a relevant ‘real-world’ experience. They gain an understanding of our place in the Solar System and Earth’s natural satellite and its phases,” said Griffin in regard to her lesson on “Sun-Moon-Earth” systems.