JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - Joshua Lindsey, an English II teacher at Hancock High School, has been named the 2013 Mississippi Teacher of the Year.
The Mississippi Department of Education and the Mississippi Teacher Center made the announcement today in Jackson. Besides winning $5,000, he'll also get a chance to meet the President and First Lady and compete for the title of National Teacher of the Year.
An 11-year veteran teacher, Lindsey spent five years at Hancock Middle School before transferring to Hancock High in 2011. He said he was honored to be considered for the high honor of representing the state's teachers.
"It's humbling. I'm excited for the opportunity to represent the teachers of Mississippi," he said.
A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Mississippi, Lindsey initially planned to attend law school and follow in his family's footsteps of practicing law. A summer as a counselor for high school students altered his career path, revealing his love of teaching and coaching soccer.
More than that, Lindsey said his true ability and talent rest in his mission of showing students that he genuinely cares for their well-being.
"I tell my students at the beginning of the semester that if they earn their credit for my class and pass the English II SATP but do not leave my classroom as better people, then I have failed them. I am more interested in the lives of my students first and their numbers second," he said.
Hancock High student Hayden Brewer said she has known "Mr. Josh" through his roles as soccer coach and church youth leader, and the respect he garners from students and teachers is worthy of recognition.
"He is a wonderful man, blessed with the ability to teach and to teach well, be it English, character, or common sense," she said.
Hancock High Principal Rhett Ladner said Lindsey has made a tremendous impact on students during his first year at the school. He was given the assignment of helping 65 students who had failed to pass the English II subject area test, and through his hard work and dedication, 49 out of the 65 passed the test - 75 percent.
Yet, Ladner said, Lindsey shuns the spotlight, and instead, places it on the students.
"I have been an administrator for 12 years, and I can say that there have been very few teachers that I have witnessed who have his skills as a teacher, his love for education, but, more importantly, his heart for children," he said.
Lindsey said he and his wife Kristy, also a teacher, discovered a great truth during their journey in life.
"There is no greater fulfillment in life than helping a child realize his or her true potential and awaking a lifetime love of learning," Lindsey said.