TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Cisi Mathews makes students excited to learn

Published 11:54 am Tuesday, February 14, 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. 

Cisi Mathews, a St. Francis Elementary School teacher, gets her students excited about learning.

“Being excited about the material helps keep my students engaged and motivated, especially during the difficult lessons,” Mathews said. 

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Mathews 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. 

Mathews began as a pre-kindergarten teacher’s assistant at St. Francis for one year. For seven years, she has been a third and fourth-grade teacher at the school. Mathews received a bachelor’s degree in health education from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2000. 

To help make each lesson fun and relatable, Mathews said she shares personal stories or provides other source material to help students understand the subject.

“I try to relate whatever we are discussing in the classroom to something in our daily life. I may share a personal story or an article I may have read,” she said, adding that by getting at least two students excited about the activities for the lesson, she can get the rest of the class to follow. “If you can hook two or three students with interest, typically the rest will go along with whatever activity or game you’re completing.”

Mathews explained in her application that each lesson starts off with an introduction, and then she teaches the material and later on the class discusses what they learned or works on solving problems.

“I will give a short assessment and if there are still students that are confused, I will pair them up so they can collaborate,” she said.

She said she’s discovered that sometimes students assisting each other can help with building a better understanding of the lesson. Mathews also stated in her Educator of the Year application that by allowing the students to work together, they also work on other skills.

“Sometimes they can get through to a fellow classmate better than I and this also helps them with verbal communication,” Mathews said. 

No matter what kind of lesson Mathew is teaching she always wants her students to be engaged and have fun.

“No matter the subject, I want all students engaged. I try and make each lesson relatable, fun or interesting,” she said.