TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Esparanda Sampson makes a safe space for learning

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, January 25, 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. 

Esparanda Sampson, an Exceptional Education teacher at Warren Central Intermediate School, creates an environment where her students feel comfortable learning.

“When my students enter my classroom, the first thing I tell them is that they are safe with me, and no one will ever tease or criticize them because of their academic challenges,” Sampson said.

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Sampson 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.

Sampson started teaching in 2004 as a fourth-grade teacher at South Delta Elementary School in Rolling Fork. Then in 2006, she began teaching as an Exceptional Education teacher at Warren Central Intermediate.

Sampson received her bachelor’s degree in general studies at Alcorn State University in 2003. Then in 2013, she obtained her master’s degree in elementary education at Alcorn State University. 

“I offer a positive and motivating environment for learning because I want my students to know that they can trust and depend on me,” Sampson said.

She explained in her Educator of the Year application that her students have been identified with having a learning disability and often struggle with staying motivated and confident while learning. However, Sampson encourages her students to overcome their obstacles.

“A lesson that I teach every year is a lesson about perseverance and confidence; to support my students with these qualities I read books and share personal experiences with my students to help guide the lesson,” Sampson said. 

To help students stay engaged, Sampson brings in real-life connections to help explain the lesson.

“I discuss current events with them. I also allow them to share current events that they have heard on the news or read in the newspaper or magazine,” she said.

She also teaches lessons that help build character and life skills.

“Incorporating teaching my students character and skill influences their participation in the general education setting because they began to participate more in class discussions and give their best when working independently,” she said.

Overall, her everyday goal when teaching is to maintain her students’ confidence and encourage them to learn more.

“When you build a student’s confidence and keep encouraging them, the possibilities are endless,” Sampson said.