2017 Teacher of the Year
When her name was called to receive the award for Grenada School District Teacher of the Year, Phyllis Chism was "very surprised and very honored."
But the Grenada Elementary School teacher said she received her reward the previous week while preparing to send her kids home for summer break. "I had set high goals and expectation at the beginning of the year for my kids, and they exceeded those expectations. That's my reward."
Chism, who teaches a K-1 looping class, received her honor at a ceremony honoring outstanding teachers and retiring staff members. In his award citation, Superintendent Dr. David Daigneault paid mention to Chism's 22 years of service with the school district as well as her reputation for helping others. "Her co-workers describe Mrs. Chism as kind, considerate, passionate, and patient," Daigneault said.
Accepting the award, a teary Chism was surprised by the presence of her family in the audience. They had been notified in advance about the award and kept it a secret.
Mrs. Chism is married to Pastor Stephen Chism, Sr. Together, the Chisms serve in the ministry of Abundant Life Temple of Faith in Winona.
Chism began her career in early childhood education as director of the Abundant Life Day Care Center in the early 1990s. She later came to Grenada Elementary as an instructional assistant in K-1 multi-age classrooms. She completed a degree in elementary education, graduating with honors, and went on to obtain her master's degree in curriculum and instruction from Ole Miss.
Chism was quick to recognize her fellow teachers at Grenada Elementary. "One thing I love about the school district is it's like a family here," she said. "I love how we help each other. We're always collaborating, sharing information. If I find something that works, I'm like, 'Here, try this.' It's just teamwork. We're working together to help the children succeed, and that's our goal here. We want to educate and inspire and motivate them. That's what I love to do."
One of Chism's great joys this year was seeing her daughter excel as a teacher. "She teaches kindergarten at another district, and I recently attended her class's graduation," Chism said. "I noticed how disciplined and quiet her students were, waiting patiently for directions. I asked her how did she get her kids so cooperative, and she said, 'By coming to your class and watching how you interact with your kids.' That gave my heart so much joy to see it being carried on like that."
The Grenada School District Teacher of the Year is selected from a list of six instructors, nominated by faculty and staff to represent each school as outstanding teachers. The other nominated teachers, honored for being their respective school's Teacher of the Year, were Anise Shuffield (Health Science, Grenada Technical and Career Center), Amber Skeen (Grenada Enrichment and Transition Center), Jessica LaFerny (Special Ed, Grenada Upper Elementary School), Gwendolyn Booker (Language Arts, Grenada Middle School), and Chip Foster (US History, Grenada High School).
In addition to a plaque, Chism received a wooden teacher's desk, hand-made by Bobby Biddy of the district's maintenance department, as well as certificates from local businesses.