Top of the Class

J.B. Martin Middle School educator selected as Louisiana Middle School teacher of the year

Stacy Neighbors, an eighth grade language arts teacher at J.B. Martin Middle School in Paradis, was named the 2010 Louisiana Middle School Teacher of the year last week at the Louisiana Department of Education’s Excellence Symposium and Celebration in Baton Rouge.

Neighbors was first nominated by her fellow colleagues at the school and then moved on to the district-level competition and won Middle School Teacher of the Year for her district, among three other teachers. She was then selected as Regional Middle School Teacher of the Year for District 1.

“I was honored to be nominated as a teacher of the year at my middle school,” said Neighbors. “I work with a lot of incredible teachers, so it meant a lot to be selected.”

The department’s day-long educational symposium included celebratory events where a total of nearly 150 educators from across the state were honored. The highlight of the event was during the luncheon, when Louisiana First Lady Supriya Jindal expressed her congratulations and gratitiude to educators across the state.

“This event provides us with the opportunity to honor these distinguished educators and administrators and to reflect of the dedicated and contributions of teachers, school leaders and administrators across Louisiana,” State Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek said.

“It is the one event devoted entirely to expressing our gratitude to those who work so hard to improve the lives and ensure the futures of Louisiana’s children. We are truly grateful for First Lady Supriya Jindal’s attendance and inspiring remarks and for the participation and generosity of the business sponsors and committee volunteers who make this event possible.”

Also announced during the evening celebration were the 2010 Teachers of the Year for elementary, middle and high school and the 2010 Principals of the Year for elementary, middle and high school.

Lydia Hollie McGee, of T.S. Cooley Elementary School in Calcasieu Parish is the 2010 Elementary School Teacher of the Year; Stacy Harkreader Neighbors, J.B. Martin Middle School in St. Charles Parish is the 2010 Middle School Teacher of the Year; and Major Donald R. Bailey, of Donaldsonville High School in Ascension Parish is the recipient of the 2010 High School Teacher of the Year Award.

State-level winners will receive $1,000 checks from Dream Teachers, LLC and prizes from Coca Cola, Community Coffee, Promethean, Inc.; E-Instruction, SMART Ideas®, Whole Foods; Blue Bayou Water Park; New Orleans Arena; Barnes and Noble and a plaque.

Neighbors was selected from 21 regional finalists as Louisiana Middle School Teacher of the Year.

20 questions with Stacy Neighbors

1. What was your favorite subject in school as a student? English was my favorite subject.

2. What is your most memorable experience as a student? My kindergarten teachers saving copies of all of the coloring sheets and activity sheets from the day so I could take them home and play “teacher.”

3. Which one of your teachers would you say you are most like? My ninth/twelfth grade honors English teacher – Mrs. Bordelon. She was knowledgeable of her subject, serious, yet with a kind spirit. We knew she cared about us.

4. Who was your favorite teacher? This is hard. I have had several teachers who influenced me. Yet, again, I would say Mrs. Bordelon, my English teacher at Chapelle High School.

5. Was there any subject in school that you struggled with and had to try harder at? Math was never my strong suit. I always made As in Math, yet I had to work diligently to maintain that grade – especially in geometry!

6. Were you ever in a school play or performance? I was a nurse in the play “South Pacific” during my eighth grade year at St. Angela Merici.

7. What’s one interesting fact about you that most people don’t know? I have a twin sister named Tracy. or that I have a red-headed daughter named Madison.

8. Which year was your most memorable in high school? Hmm… I would say senior year. Preparing for graduation and college, as well as “Senior Farewell” and other festivities are memorable.

9. What was your biggest accomplishment as a student? Becoming president of the “Key Club” at Chapelle – being able to give back to the community was an accomplishment that stands out.

10. What was your most embarrassing moment as a student, if any? Not so much embarrassing, but it was difficult having to stand up in front of the entire junior class and read my speech to become treasurer of Student Council. It is hard to get up in front of that many peers!

11. What are some extracurricular activities you participated in throughout your schooling? Key Club, National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society, Student Council, and I was very active in my church community at the time, Christ the King Lutheran in Kenner.

12. Did you ever attend any school trips? I remember taking food that my elementary school, Chateau Estates, had collected with a group of four other students to Loyola University in fifth grade. We even ended up on the local news. I felt so special!

13. What has been your most memorable experience as a teacher? My very first year of teaching, a student in my class, Joe, would always ask to go to the bathroom. I finally realized that he was probably meeting someone in the bathroom and told him he could no longer go during last hour unless it was an emergency. One day he was gone and I realized that he must be in the bathroom. He came into the room with a bouquet of flowers and announced that I was “New Teacher of the Year.” He laughed and said, “I know you thought I was in the bathroom, but I just wanted to surprise you!” I will never forget that moment.

14. Which year of teaching has been your most favorite? Every year I continue to learn new things. I don’t think I can look back and say any one year was my favorite, but I do have favorite parts of every single year!

15. Who has been your biggest influence since you’ve started teaching? My former partner teacher, Bonnie Bourg, truly served as my mentor. She continues to be a great friend.

16. What qualities do you possess that you feel helped you to be selected at a state teacher of the year? Dedication. Holding my students to high expectations, treating them with respect yet never lowering the bar. A true sense of caring.

17. What is your favorite teaching method? I do enjoy utilizing “Literature Circles” with my students in which the students facilitate the discussions in small groups based around novels.

18. How did you celebrate your selection as Louisiana Middle School Teacher of the Year? My husband and I had dessert that night at the Melting Pot! 🙂 Sadly, the day after my husband’s grandmother passed away and his brother was placed in UAB in critical condition. So, the celebratory phase has not happened yet.

19. What is the most rewarding part about being a teacher? The daily, hallway converstations with students and making small differences in their lives.

20. What is your favorite quote that inspires you as a teacher? My mom has always said, “If you touch just one life, you have done your job and made a difference for a lifetime.” I am lucky enough to touch lives everyday and be shaped daily by my students! I learn from them every single day! 🙂

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