LONG BEACH, Miss. (WLOX) - Two South Mississippi teachers have been honored on the national level. Curriculum Associates is an education company that celebrates teachers around the country who are not only best-in-class teachers but who have stayed ahead of the curve in classroom innovation and maintain a high standard for student achievement.
Jamie Cooper and Wayne Ulrich are two teachers in South Mississippi who Curriculum Associates felt best exemplified their criteria.
Jamie Cooper is a 5th-grade reading teacher at Singing River Academy who said that his selection highlights education in Mississippi.
“It’s a great opportunity to be selected with those other 44 around the country and to be one of three in Mississippi really just highlights how great our state is doing in education also. I’m going to be able to collaborate with those teachers and see what kind of strategies they’re using in other states and possibly bring that here into our classrooms here on the Gulf Coast,” he said.
Cooper said that winning this award also shows how the work that teachers do helps to keep the community thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During this pandemic, kids were at home. At the initial start of it, our students were at home, they were learning and the society and the people around were like wow we really need our teachers every day in the classroom. They’ve got to take those kids with them, take care of those kids, educate the children and then also have time for the parents to go to work and keep the economy rolling,” Cooper said.
Pamela Rone, principal at Singing River Academy, said that the extra work that Cooper puts in inside the classroom goes a long way with the students.
“He is data diving all the time with his students, diagnostics with their lessons throughout the week and making sure his students are getting their time in each week, but not only getting their time in but being successful with their lessons,” Rone said.
Long Beach Middle School principal Timothy Holland said that 7th-grade math teacher Wayne Ulrich has become a teacher that students not only respect but want to work for.
“One of his strengths is his ability to build relationships with students. Jokingly, he’s the kind of teacher that can say and get away with things because the kids respect him so much and would do anything for him. I think the relationship building is the key that’s helped us get through the COVID process year. Kids will just work for teachers they respect and know that the teacher really cares about them and what they do,” Holland said.
Ulrich, also a three-sport coach at the middle school, said that earning the title of Extraordinary Educator was the work of a larger team.
“It’s non-stop, you know, coaching those you get a week or two off before going to the next one, practicing all the time, driving busses in the morning and afternoon, and we started back going to school. It’s been a job, especially with how hectic it’s been this year. You know, we pull through it. It takes a team to get through it. That’s what’s so great about being here at the middle school. We do get a lot of help from each other. It’s a team effort,” Ulrich said. “It’s an honor and a privilege to get acknowledgment from the Curriculum Associates. The fact that teachers are getting acknowledged for all of the things that they do, people don’t see the back end of what we do all day every day. At this school, we work as a team so I think all teachers, right now, deserve the MVP award.”
Wayne Ulrich and Jamie Cooper are two of three Mississippi educators honored this year. One additional teacher in Hattiesburg was also selected. All three were among 44 educators selected nationwide.