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Educators honored by the Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce



Left to right: Mathew Austin Crabtree, Malissa Flowers, Theresa Bell and Marion Margaret Hern. (photo by Larry Walker)

No matter what your current profession may be, many can thank a teacher or an educator for getting you there in some way, shape, form or fashion. Today, the Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce honored educators during their 31st Annual Educators of the Year Awards Luncheon.

“This is a very special event because we get to celebrate one of the main components of what makes a community happen, and that’s our teachers,” said Pablo Diaz, Vicksburg-Warren Chamber director.  

Twenty-one amazing candidates out of both the private and public school sector were selected by their peers to represent their school at the luncheon. The candidates were split up between elementary educators (Pre-K through sixth grade) and secondary educators (seventh through 12th grade).

A runner up and a winner was announced for both divisions. Each runner up received a $500 prize provided by Mutual Credit Union, and winners received a $1,000 prize provided by Ameristar Casino. Chick-fil-A extended a caring gesture to all 21 candidates by offering them one free meal per week during the summer.

“Our chamber is committed to education,” Diaz said. “We want to be there as a business community, supporting education to make it the best that it can be for kids and our future.”

Buddy Dees, chamber education chairman, mentioned that during the months of October and November, each school is asked to hold an election at their school to nominate a candidate. Once nominated, candidates go through an extensive application process and a 10-minute interview with six retired educators. 

Diaz shared a special moment during the meeting.

“Teachers you have a huge job on your hands,” Diaz said. “It’s an important job that you have. You are crafting and molding the future leaders of our community. You are crafting and molding the workforce of the future.”

The $500 elementary runner up was Marion Margaret Hern from Bovina Elementary.

Winning the grand prize of $1,000 elementary winner was Malissa Flowers from Beechwood Elementary. Flowers is a special education teacher for 3 and 4-year olds.

“On my way back to Beechwood, I pulled off to my bank and cashed the check,” Flowers said.

Arriving back to Beechwood, Flowers said she gave money to both of her assistants.

“It’s a group effort,” Flowers said. “I cannot do what I do without support.”

The $500 secondary runner up was Thresa Bell from Warren Central High School. 

Winning the grand prize of $1,000 for secondary educators was Austin Crabtree.

The youngest nominee, Crabtree could not hold back excitement as he walked toward the podium pointing towards heaven and mouthing, ” Thank you, Lord.”

Crabtree graduated from Porters Chapel Academy in 2014.  He completed college and is now employed instilling the same core values at the school where they were instilled in him just a few short years ago.

The 2020 elementary nominees are as follows: Malissa Flowers, Beechwood Elementary; Marion Margaret Hern, Bovina Elementary; Christine Jones, Bowmar Elementary; Valerie Benard, Dana Road Elementary; Elizabeth Westerfield, Porters Chapel Academy; Amber Jones, Redwood Elementary; Cassandra Brown, Sherman Avenue; Cassandra Ringo, South Park; Martha Amborn,  St. Francis Xavier; Monica Williams, Vicksburg Intermediate School; Woodrow Price, III, Warren Central Intermediate School; and Jasmine Island, Warrenton Elementary.

The 2020 secondary nominees are as follows: Brittany Prowell, Academy of Innovation; Austin Crabtree, Porters Chapel Academy; Kayla Sorrels, River City Early College; Joan Thornton, St. Aloysius High School; Cynthia Price, Vicksburg Junior High School; Jessica Griffin, Warren Central Junior High School; Grangerette Hayes-Ivory, Vicksburg High School; Theresa Bell, Warren Central High School; and Eloise Ford, Vicksburg Warren School District Career and Technical Center. 

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