OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The cafeteria at Pecan Park Elementary School was packed Tuesday morning as one of their own was honored. Tiersa Boney was named the Ocean Springs Education Foundation Teacher of the Year.
“I didn’t believe it would be me and so I was shocked, I truly was,” Boney gushed. “I was honored and just so grateful. Just so excited.”
Boney is known for using innovation in the classroom. For example, earlier this year she and her students donned medical scrubs to operate on contractions.
It’s the kind of thinking that impressed education foundation members, including foundation president Leslie Kelley.
“She comes in the classroom with creative ideas and just makes the classroom come alive,” Kelley said.
What makes this award different from most other teaching awards is that it comes from the students and their recommendations. One of the students is Mallory Talley.
“She let us read under our desks in baskets and in a comfy reader corner,” Talley recalled. "She changed my life because she taught me how to be an awesome reader.”
“I love school because she teaches me reading and math,” Cohen DeBuysere said.
And what Boney has accomplished is setting a foundation for the future.
“That’s the first thing we build. We build up a relationship to have a family, and then we learn. So they are my babies. I have two at home and I have 20 at school,” Boney said.
For winning the Teacher of the Year award, Boney receives $500 for her personal use, and $2,500 to use in her classroom or at Pecan Park.
The Jan and Pieper Niolin Teacher of the Year award is named in memory of the Ocean Springs mother and daughter who were tragically shot to death in 2012. It was a longtime dream of Jan’s to create a teacher of the year award in the city school district. And for seven years now, that dream has come true.
Those who knew the Niolins say its important to remember the two souls that are the inspiration behind this day.
"Jan and Pieper were great members of the community. Pieper was an outstanding student at Ocean Springs Middle School. And I know Jan had some big dreams for what she wanted to accomplish with the Ocean Springs School District,” Principal Chris LeBatard said.