McKone, Pace honored as Teacher, Parent of the Year

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, May 20, 2008

With the 2007-2008 school year all but over, the Lincoln CountySchool District took time Monday afternoon to reward its hardworkers by naming teachers and parents of the year from each countyschool, and by naming one of each group for the entire system.

The Lincoln County Teacher of the Year award was given to BogueChitto Attendance Center’s Kathy McKone, who teaches severaladvanced science courses to Bogue Chitto’s high school students.McKone received the award for her efforts in expanding the school’sscience curriculum, helped by her many summer trips to trainingsessions and seminars and her pursuit of bringing thelaboratory-based Biomedical Research class to Bogue Chitto.

The Lincoln County Parent of the Year award was given to WestLincoln Attendance Center’s Kim Pace, who, along with her husband,James, started the school’s pee-wee homecoming program and continueto lead it. The program, which pits classes of pee-wee footballplayers and their parents against other classes in a fundraisingcompetition, has been a big financial help to West Lincoln, Pacesaid.

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Still, Pace is unsure of her worthiness of the award.

“We have so many parents and teachers that work to make ourschool what it is – I feel so undeserving,” she said. “How can Itop this?”

McKone and Pace were not alone in their recognition. Individualschools’ teacher of the year awards were given to LeAnn McEwen ofEnterprise Attendance Center, Carla Wallace of Loyd Star AttendanceCenter and Tonya Bairfield of West Lincoln Attendance Center.

Penny Miller of Bogue Chitto, Wayne Rutland of Enterprise andSonja James of Loyd Star were recognized as parents of the yearfrom their respective schools.

McKone’s efforts to expand the curriculum fit almost perfectlythe criteria set forth by the school district committee thatselected her for the award.

“One of the main things I’m looking for in a Teacher of the Yearis their philosophy on teaching,” said Assistant SuperintendentLetha Presley, who heads up the committee. “I’m looking for ateacher who believes that all children can learn.”

McKone believes all of Bogue Chitto’s students can learn thesecrets of advanced sciences like biotechnology, a course rarelyfound in Mississippi’s high schools, Presley said.

“I feel an urgency to expose our students to technology that canmake life better for those around us,” McKone said. “At BogueChitto, our students are making things happen – we’re not waitingfor others to show us the way.”

McKone, who is still pulling strings to land Biomedical Researchat Bogue Chitto, is not relenting in her quest to bring newsciences to the school.

“There’s a time to let things happen, then there’s a time tomake things happen,” she said, quoting author Hugh Prather.

Like McKone, Pace plans to continue to support her schoolthrough her volunteering efforts.

“There’s always gonna be something to do – always a need forparents to be involved,” she said. “With the help of all the otherparents, we will meet whatever needs arise.”

One school official who was particularly proud of theachievements of the teachers and parents supporting his schoolsystem was Superintendent Terry Brister. He pointed out how mucheffort it takes for a teacher like McKone to expand upon her dutiesin a time when the responsibilities of teachers are so great.

“My teachers take on that challenge, and they’ve done anadmirable job,” Brister said. “The expectations are so much more -times, parents, kids, teachers and standards have changed yearafter year. But my teachers have taken it and they’ve gone with it,because they know that’s what we need to succeed.”

Brister recalled a time when teachers had the luxury of strayingfrom the curriculum – teaching extra information not guaranteed toshow up on a test. Those times, Brister agreed, are when studentsdo their best learning, and he said Lincoln County’s teachers werestriving to bring those times back.

“Now, we’re held to focusing on making sure our children obtainwhat they are required to know for tests,” Brister said. “But theseteachers are not just teaching to the tests, they’re goingbeyond.”

As for the district’s parents, Brister was adamant about theirnecessity.

“Show me a strong district, and I’ll show you strong parentalinvolvement,” he said. “And it doesn’t just come from sellingT-shirts and snow cones. These parents are helping communitiesadjust to the needs and requirements of the academic atmosphere ofour school system.”