GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - If Friday was supposed to be a teacher pep-rally, then seventh-grader Tyler Rushing was the head cheerleader. Tyler addressed all 435 teachers in the Gulfport School District before they headed to the classroom for their annual training sessions. His message was simple.
"I want them to believe in me and believe in their self, and that we can do anything and achieve anything in life," Rushing said.
The speech was the perfect predecessor for a day intended to help teachers learn how to inspire their pupils.
"We do what we call Essential Pieces," said Gulfport Schools Superintendent Glen East. "And it's kind of like a gigantic conference that you would travel off to, but we keep it right here at home."
Jeenna Brunn is one of the presenters for the day-long conference. She said she always looks forward to coming.
"We get to pick classes, you know, based on what we teach to learn new things so we can apply them in the classroom."
Brunn usually stands in front of a class of eighth graders, but Friday she found herself teaching her peers, how to make learning more fun.
"I think motivating the kids is probably 90% of our job," said Brunn. "If they're not motivated, they're not excited, then nothing we say is going to go in and make any sense to them. "
In another classroom, educators were brain storming about what makes a great teacher.
"I just want to grow and learn as an educator," said Lea Bellon, Principal at 28th Street Elementary. "And to be able to share those experiences with teachers so that we can grow professionally and do what's best for children each and every day throughout the school year."
Armed with new knowledge, and innovative techniques, these teachers will return to the classroom next week motivated and eager to greet their students.
Before Friday's training sessions, the Gulfport School District recognized some very special people. First, more than 60 students were honored for scoring a perfect score on their standardized tests this past spring. In turn, the students recognized their teachers.
Afterwards, there was a special presentation for the teachers of Pass Road Elementary. Their school was one of only two in the state to be named a Title 1 Distinguished School, a national honor.