Biloxi Teacher, UM Alum Named Teacher of the Year at Gulf Coast School

Amber Watkins

Amber Watkins

OXFORD, Miss. – Amber Watkins, a 2009 elementary education graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Education, seems to be a natural teacher.

In fact, only a year-and-a-half into her teaching career, she’s been honored as Teacher of the Year for Woolmarket Elementary School in Biloxi.

“There are so many reasons I love what I do,” said Watkins, a native of D’Iberville who leads a class of 19 second-graders. “But I think seeing my students succeed is the most rewarding.”

Chosen by her principal, Vickie Williams, Watkins will be honored April 30 at her school’s board of directors meeting. She was chosen for the award after Williams observed Watkins’ in-depth teaching style and commitment to help students throughout the school, not just the ones in her class.

“We selected Mrs. Watkins for her creativity, passion and willingness to go above and beyond,” Williams explained. “She ensures all of her students meet her expectations and works well with colleagues. She gives up her planning time to tutor at-risk students. I wish we had more like her.”

For Watkins, the teaching profession has been a calling since childhood.

“I became interested in being a teacher because of my brother,” she said. “He struggled with ADHD and I saw how much he worked to barely get by. I wanted to be there for students and help them regardless of their needs.”

Watkins is working on a master’s degree in elementary education at William Carey University in Gulfport and has plans to one day return to Ole Miss for doctoral work. Her dream job is to be an education professor, but in the meantime, she’s focusing her energy on her students.

“Everyone needs someone who won’t give up on them,” she said.

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