TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Elizabeth Westerfield uses assessments to measure success

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, January 18, 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. 

Porter’s Chapel Academy Elementary teacher Elizabeth Westerfield uses her resources to measure her students’ success.

Westerfield 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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Westerfield started teaching in 1990 in Bowdoinham, Maine, as a first and second-grade teacher. In 1992, she became a Reading Resource Assitant in Brunswick, Maine. By 1998, she started teaching at Van Winkle JPS in Jackson, Miss. as a second-grade teacher. Westerfield then taught at Sherman Avenue Elementary School in 1999 as a second and third-grade teacher. In 2018, she started working at Porter’s Chapel Academy as a fourth and fifth-grade teacher. 

Westerfield received her associate’s degree from Massasoit Community College in liberal arts. She then obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education at the University of Southern Maine. 

“One of the assessment tools our school uses is the STAR Reading and Math Assessment to measure students’ growth and achievement. This information gives me my students’ strengths and weaknesses,” Westerfield said.

The STAR Reading and Math assessment tools allow Westerfield to look at the skills that need improvement. One example is her lesson on numbers and operations in base 10.

“During our morning work, I gave additional instruction and practice on reading and writing large numbers, place value, standard and expanded form of numbers and comparing larger numbers,” she said.

The class will go over everything they just learned and if Westerfield thinks that the students are struggling she will go into individual or small group lessons. 

While learning their lessons, students have the opportunity to use many resources to understand the material. An example is Westerfield’s history lesson on early European explorers.

“We began with a video on YouTube, which helped give everyone some background knowledge, then the students would choose six explorers they were most interested in,” Westerfield said.

While researching their explorers, the students used their Chromebooks to gather the information that would go into a flip book and later on be presented to the class.

“The children worked in groups to help each other and everyone was actively involved. This unit offered the students an opportunity to have some learning choices, work and share together and be proud of their finished product,” Westerfield said.