TEACHER OF THE YEAR: TeAndrea Rowell teaches through real-life connections

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, January 11, 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. 

TeAndrea Rowell, a seventh-grade science teacher at Warren Central Junior High School, strives to answer her students’ questions about why it is so important to understand what they just learned.

“Often, students ask how they will use (this) information or why they need to learn certain information; science is a subject that is easy to show students how it relates to them and their world because it explains the world around them,” Rowell said.

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Rowell 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. 

Rowell began her career in education in 2008 as an Algebra 1 tutor for state testing at Vicksburg High School. Then in 2009, she became a long-term substitute at Grove Street Alternative School for fifth-graders. Later that year, she became a seventh and eighth-grade science teacher at Warren Central Junior High School. 

Rowell received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Tuskegee University in 1990. She then obtained her Master of Science in Environmental Science at Tuskegee in 1996. 

“Students are asked what job they would like or if they had a job, what skill or knowledge they would need to do the job,” Rowell said.

She described the importance of building those connections, whether it is by having her students ask questions to make those connections or showing her students the connections. 

One example of building connections, she said, is her lesson on the cell cycle and cancer.

“Most students have the knowledge, and some have experience, with cancer and are interested in learning because of their prior knowledge,” Rowell said.

She continued to explain that she “shows (her) students the many discoveries and advances in cancer research and encourages them to continue with the research.” 

In order for Rowell to help her students understand the importance of certain lessons and build those connections, she said she makes time to have individual conversations about their scores and progress in the class.

“In middle school, the students often don’t realize the impact of their actions and how important it is that they always do their best,” she said.

These conversations involve showing the students areas where they are excelling and then they discuss where the student could put in the effort to have better results.

“After individual conversations and encouragement, students always do better and realize working hard and trying always benefits you,” she said.