TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Danielle Bergeron uses mistakes to improve academic success

Published 8:00 am Saturday, January 7, 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. 

Danielle Bergeron, a teacher at St. Aloysius High School, said she believes “putting in the effort is often half the battle to achieving (my students’) goals.” 

Bergeron 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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Bergeron has been teaching at St. Aloysius High School for the past six years. During her time at SAHS she has taught AP Calculus, Honors Algebra 3, Honors Trigonometry, Algebra 3, trigonometry, chemistry, Honors Geometry, geometry and ACT Prep. For five years, she was also an after-school tutor for St. Francis Xavier Elementary. 

Bergeron received her Bachelor of Science in chemistry and mathematics from Mississippi State University. Later on, she received her Master of Arts in teaching secondary education for math and science from Mississippi State University. 

In Bergeron’s Educator of the Year application, she described how she uses lessons like verifying trigonometric identities to demonstrate how she challenges her students to reach their academic goals.

“This is a lesson where students must prove that two completely different expressions are equivalent. Unlike most math problems where an answer is a number, the answer to these problems is the students’ justification or ‘work’,” Bergeron said. 

While teaching this lesson, she instructs her students on the various ways to solve one problem, since verifying trigonometric identities is not a step-by-step process. She gives her students the basic tools needed for each solution that can be applied to any trig identity problem and then leaves it up to her students to pick the solution that works best for them.

“This lesson pushes students to embrace mistakes, talk through the problem with their peers, and to keep trying different methods until they find one that works for them,” Bergeron said, adding how rewarding the feeling is when her students are able to solve every problem by using the solution that works for them. 

Putting in the effort and working through mistakes are the two lessons she wants to emphasize for all of her students.

As she stated in her application, “What matters is that they are patient with themselves, they use their mistakes to improve and grow and that they are willing to keep trying.”