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MSA teacher named Educator of the Year

A Brookhaven teacher has won national recognition and a $1,000 grant.

Tobie Lambert, of Lawrence County, has taught in Brookhaven at Mississippi School of the Arts since 2016. An English instructor, Lambert also taught at Brookhaven High School and Lawrence County High School in her 15-year career. She was an adjunct professor at Pearl River Community College — teaching classes at night, during the summers and virtually — before doing the same at Copiah-Lincoln Community College beginning in 2007.

In 2019, Lambert received an Educator of Distinction Award from the National Society of High School Scholars. The award placed her in the running for the 2020 NSHSS Top Teacher of the Year, among fewer than 10 finalists. While the top award went in November to a teacher from Memphis, Lambert was one of seven finalists to be named Teacher of the Year and one of three finalists to receive the title of Educator of the Year and a grant of $1,000 to further her career goals.

Lambert plans to use the grant in her quest to achieve National Board Certification, a high standard for teachers that is akin to achieving a specialist degree.

“I am seeking certification to reinvest in myself so I can reflect on my practice and improve as a teacher,” Lambert said.

As a one-person department at MSA, Lambert is proud of the award, but just as proud of her 2018 Teacher of the Year recognition at the arts school — an award determined by the students. The honor was rewarding and made her feel very appreciated.

Lambert teaches English III and IV, AP Language, AP Literature, and Dual Credit English I and II. She also serves as Beta Club sponsor.

“Mississippi School of the Arts’ small class sizes helps make the course load manageable,” she said.

Part of what Lambert loves about teaching at MSA is the work environment, which she said revitalized her as a teacher.

“The faculty and administration here care more than in any other environment I’ve seen. I couldn’t wait to be a part of it,” she said. “The idea of working with creative, young artists and faculty was exciting, but also something that I love about teaching is that I get to be flexible and adaptable in the classroom to meet student needs. What better place to do that than MSA, where diverse student populations come from all over the state to attend? Every class and group of students is different and has a different atmosphere. It never gets boring.”

The National Society of High School Scholars awards are presented to exemplary educators who have demonstrated an outstanding and noteworthy commitment to preparing their students for success inside and outside of the classroom. (Lambert) believes education is not always about achievement but is perpetually about personal growth.

“Each year it is difficult to select our winners out of hundreds of compelling applications. This year’s candidates raised the bar to a new level we never could have imagined,” said NSHSS co-founder James Lewis. “We are honored to underscore their contributions.”

Several of Lambert’s students have won Gold Key or Silver Key awards in the Scholastic Writing Awards program, and 73% of her students increased their 2020 ACT scores by an average of five points in the English section and four points in the reading section. Lambert also consulted with Jumpstart Test Prep to create English and reading modules, passages and questions for the JTP online program to help students across the nation improve their ACT scores.

Lambert does have a favorite student — her daughter Ava, a freshman at Lawrence County High School.

“I am so very proud of her. She is smart, insightful and kind, and I don’t know what I’d do without her,” Lambert said. “I really hope she comes to MSA in her 11th grade year. They’re so motivated here, it’s contagious.”