TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Yolanda W. White feels all students can achieve when taught in an environment of trust, self-worth

Published 12:15 am Monday, January 15, 2024

Yolanda W. White teaches seventh-grade English and language arts at Vicksburg Junior High. White has been teaching for two years.

White is a finalist for the Vicksburg-Warren 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’s Luncheon in February. The winner of each award will receive $1,000 from Ameristar Casino and each runner-up will receive $500 from Mutual Credit Union.

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When asked how she engages students in learning, she said she draws from the example of Cesar Chavez, and treats all students with respect for who they are as individuals. I instill cultural sensitivity, and empathy as well as encourage a sense of hope in my classroom.

In doing so she feels that all students have the capacity to learn and achieve at high levels that are authentic to their learning styles.

With an environment of trust and self-worth students excel in center time and share openly during activities such as Think-Pair-Share.

“My students use text-to-text, text-to-self and text-to-world connection strategies to stay connected to the world around them,” she said.

White further explains, “the main question asked while using these strategies is,’W hat does this remind you of in the real world?'”

To improve her students’ achievement in the classroom she uses assessments.

White uses a prior lesson assessment, informal assessments, an assessment of learning and the formal assessment.

“These assessments determine what the student knows prior to a lesson, what the student is learning during the lesson and what knowledge the student walked away from a lesson with,” White explained. When students struggle, White uses remediation and interventions.

When asked to elaborate on her most moving educational experience thus far, White had this to say: “My parents’ desire was for me to go to college and teach. I had different plans, but after my dad died, I decided it was time to go back to school and get my certification. Now I cannot imagine doing anything else.”

When asked why she teaches she said, “I teach because every student can learn. You just have to meet them where they are.”