TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Briana Richardson believes student success begins and ends with the teacher

Published 1:55 pm Monday, January 22, 2024

Briana Richardson is a teacher at South Park Elementary. She has been teaching for seven years. Richardson believes student success begins and ends with the teacher.

Richardson is a finalist for the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Educator of the Year. The Chamber will select and announce one elementary and one secondary teacher of the year at the Chamber Luncheon in February. The winner of each award will receive $1,000 from Ameristar Casino and the runner-ups will receive $500 from Mutual Credit Union.

When asked about how she engages students in her classroom, she said, ” I wrote a song about multiplication and division to the tune of Drake’s Toosie Slide. The kids loved using it. I believe you should meet your students where they learn best and all students love music.”

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Richardson said she tries to use all of the tools at her disposal in the classroom and add creativity to lessons.

“I build my lessons and activities with my students and all of their learning styles in mind. We discuss more than just math in my classroom; we discuss students’ worries and concerns about the world around them. We make up lyrics to popular songs on the radio that they hear each day to help drive home skills that they might be struggling with.”

When asked how she improves student achievement in the classroom, she said, ” I track the data throughout the year. We have posters that track students’ data weekly.”

Richardson holds students responsible and has them in charge of changing their data on those charts.

“We have discussions about their data and revisit their Wildly Important Goals regularly,” Richardson said. She also rewards those who excel and meet their goals with treats, activities, and parties.

Richardson also related her most moving educational experience.

“I had four students last year who failed their third-grade Gateway test. They were ridiculed and teased about it by their classmates. But I pulled each of them aside and told them about my failure and said look at me now. I made it through you can too. I encouraged them to keep going and by the end of the year, they exceeded their goals and passed the test. This was a moving and just the best experience ever.”