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Teacher lays foundation for academic career

Mrs.-Young Teacher lays foundation for academic career

It seems like kindergarten used to just be nap time, the alphabet and chocolate milk. However, times have changed, and children are expected to know so much more, from computer skills to narrative writing. Considering for some children it is their first time in a classroom, it is a lot to learn in a year. This is where teachers like Margaret Young come in.

“I have been teaching kindergarten at Gautier Elementary School for 10 years now,” Young said. “Before that I taught 2nd grade for two years.”

As a kindergarten teacher, Margaret works to make her classroom a fun learning environment.

“I have tried to foster a family relationship in my classroom,” she explained. “We do a lot of talking and sharing of feelings and emotions and ideas. We do learning through music, movements and gestures to help the students remember the lessons. I have learning centers to incorporate art and games to make them want to learn.”

Making learning engaging for the students can make it easier for them to learn the more challenging coursework.

“The work is very rigorous now, so that’s why I try to make it fun,” Young said. “Now they are writing narratives and informational text by the end of the year. They know how to read data because they have to do that on the computer every day. It is more challenging now than in previous years. We in Mississippi were falling behind in education in the nation, but now we have some of the most rigorous standards so we can catch up. It’s a lot of work, and there are tears from the kids, but they are excited to learn.”

Margaret was inspired to be a teacher by one of life’s first role models: her mother.

Mrs.-Young Teacher lays foundation for academic career
Mrs.-Young Teacher lays foundation for academic career

“My mom was as assistant teacher who worked in kindergarten and special education, so I’ve always been in that environment,” she recalled. “I’ve always loved little kids, even when I was a little kid. I’ve always sort of had this parental instinct and used to pretend to play teacher. I’ve also had some really great teachers, especially one of my math teachers at Colmer Middle School. I was having trouble in math, and she would always work with me and stay with me after school without getting paid anything extra to help me.”

As a kindergarten teacher, Margaret is often working with students who have never been in a classroom environment before.

“I would say my class is about half and half,” she said. “Some kids how been in a pre-k class or Head Start program, but it is an even split between those children and the children who are coming straight from home. They do cry the first few weeks because they miss being at home, but we use that time to teach them the rules and routines to make them more comfortable in the classroom. At that age, children really want to please you and do the right thing. The only challenge comes in that there’s 24 students to teach everything to between just my assistant and myself. But they see the reward, so they want to learn.”

As the school year comes to an end, it is once again time for the students to say good bye to Ms. Young as they move to the 1st grade.

Mrs.-Young Teacher lays foundation for academic career

“In these last few weeks, I’m trying to make sure they are excited to move on and prepare them for the 1st grade,” Young explained. “I know all of the teachers they are moving to, so I’m not worried about them having a good experience next year. I’m happy to see how they’ve grown.”

Mrs.-Young Teacher lays foundation for academic career

 

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Jackson County celebrates high school graduates

The month of May means Mother’s Day, Memorial Day weekend, and graduations.

High schools across Jackson County are celebrating their graduating seniors and their achievements.

Resurrection Catholic School had 33 students graduate this May.

Gautier High School has 197 students graduating, with Gabrielle Humber selected as class valedictorian and Elizabeth Holliday as salutatorian.

Pascagoula High School’s class of 265 students has Amelia Lawrence as valedictorian and Caroline Ko as salutatorian.

Moss Point High School has 129 students graduating, with Kennadi Johnson selected as class valedictorian and Niya Cooper as salutatorian.

St. Martin High School’s class of 279 students has Alyssa Britton as valedictorian and Katlyn Scott as salutatorian. 

East Central High School has 180 students graduating, with Sarah Eyre as valedictorian and Jenna Broadus as salutatorian.

Vancleave High School’s class of 173 students has Brandon Jerrod Scott as valedictorian and Emily Chappell as salutatorian.

Ocean Springs High School has a class of 399 students, with Leah Dudte as valedictorian and Molly Harback as salutatorian.

Congratulations to all of the Jackson County high school graduates!

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St. Martin places in STEM competition

School might be wrapping up, but for some students at St. Martin High School, that didn’t mean it was time to take it easy. 

Two teams from St. Martin competed Saturday. in Chevron/Project Lead The Way Design Challenge at the University of New Orleans.

 

IMG_1770 St. Martin places in STEM competition

 

“Project Lead the Way is a project-based STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) curriculum,” said Mr. Richard Humphreys, who is in charge of the St. Martin teams. “Students solve real-world type problems during each of the courses. St. Martin High School offers Introduction to Engineering Design, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, and Principles of Engineering. Next year we will take on a Computer Science course as well.

“We are indebted to Chevron for seeing the value in our students and greatly supporting our programs. They have sponsored open houses for PLTW students, provided practicing engineers to share their knowledge and expertise with students in the classroom, and they have funded much of the PLTW program for the schools that have chosen to offer it. Chevron has been a great patron to our program.”

During the competition, teams were given a challenge and had to work together to create an original design. They had to submit sketches, Autodesk Inventor drawings, and develop a short presentation to pitch their design. 

“For this activity the students were asked to solve real-world problem that included designing a stand for bridge safety signs for the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway,” Humphreys explained. “They were given the challenge criteria. Each team went about solving the problem using the design process and then presented their solution to an auditorium full of their peers, engineering educators, and engineers. For this challenge, students needed to think on their feet and present the results of their work. The skills that these students applied for this competition included the design process, technical sketching, computer aided designing, and presentation skills. Teachers were sequestered during the challenge and were only able to converse with/coach/mentor the team during lunch. The St. Martin STEAM Teams did great at the competition. Our Jackets STEAM Team Y won 3rd place for their entry.”

The skills brought to the team by each individual member helped bring them this success.

“The students on my team are a great bunch,” Humphreys explained. “The majority of this group is interested in pursuing engineering when they leave high school, so this is a great fit for them. They are all strong in math and enjoy problem solving. All of them have been a part our robotics team, have gone to a state competition for robotics, and some of them have participated in VEX Robotics Worlds competition.”

Even though this competition came late in the school year, Humphreys is already looking ahead for the future of the St. Martin teams.

“Everyone who participated in the design challenge is part of The Jackets STEAM Team, St Martin High School’s STEM club. The STEAM Team has many activities that students can participate in,” Humphreys said. “I hope that I can get more students involved in the Chevron Design challenge. It was a little late this school year, and with all of the out of town family in for graduation, it was tough getting many students to participate. It was a lot of fun and students who did participate are chatting it up with other STEAM Team members who are now sorry that they could not make it to the event.”

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Administrator serves her school, soap box derby

ski-2_549x768 Administrator serves her school, soap box derby

Education is a true time commitment. As educator is responsible for numerous children for a large portion of the day, not only in teaching them, but also for their well being. Being a teacher responsible for up to 30 students is daunting enough, so one can only imagine the stresses of being a principal for an entire campus.

“I supervise the 460 children and 50 adults every day,” said Susan Stachowski, principal of Magnolia Middle School in Moss Point. “I am responsible for monitoring grades, instruction, attendance, behavior, everything.

There are moments I think “Oh goodness, I’m responsible for that building and everything in it.’ However, Dr. Vincent believed in me, and I won’t let her down.” 

Stachowski is completing her second year as principal of Magnolia Middle School. She was previously a teacher at Magnolia Middle School from 1994-2000 teaching English and Career Discovery, and has returned after 16 years at Colmer Middle School in Pascagoula.

“It’s exciting to be back home and back where I feel like i’m making a difference,” she mentioned.

Spending so many years in education, Stachowski has opportunities to see her students evolve and grow outside of the classroom.

“I enjoyed teaching Career Discovery because it was fun helping children prepare for the future,” Stachowski said. “I remember one student I taught my first year loved science, and now he actually works as my Science Department chair.”

Even though it is only her second year back in the district, Stachowski was named this year’s Administrator of the Year for Moss Point schools, showing that is she is making strides early on. 

Even with her work in administration, meaning she does not get to enjoy the upcoming summer break, Stachowski still makes time to be part of the committee that organizes the annual Deborah Washington Memorial Soap Box Derby

“It all started when my son was 10, and as a reference his is now 23,” Stachowski recalled. “Years ago some friends that were doing the derby said come do it with them, and that’s how we got involved. My children haven’t raced in 8 years, but we’ve always been part of the race. It’s become our family community service.”

Originally known as the Magnolia State Soap Box Derby, the event’s name was changed to honor Deborah Washington after she lost her battle with breast cancer. Washington started the event in 1992, and was a beloved Chevron Refinery employee known for her active community involvement.

“I love what the derby does for the city and for the children,” Stachowski said. “I believe in it and want it to continue. My children had a great experience with it, and the friendships I’ve created with the people on that committee mean the world to me. I love the people I work with. We all have a real passion for what we do because none of us on the committee still have children who race. We also enjoy keeping Deborah’s memory alive with the race, and we on the committee consider ourselves ‘Deb’s Angles.'”

Stachowski stays involved in the derby race because of all the unique experiences it offers children in the community.

“You get lots of experiences because winners of the race get to go to Akron, Ohio to compete in the soap box derby there against racers from all over the world,” Stachowski said. 

Another aspect of the races that helps to keep Stachowski involved is her family.

“This is our family community service,” Stachowski explained. “Both of my kids raced but now they are too old for it, but we still stay involved and help with the races each year. In 2006 we were actually honored as the National Soap Box Derby family for that year. It’s truly a family affair.”

With all that Stachowski does in her professional and volunteer life, it is clear she works hard to make Moss Point a gem of Jackson County.

Pay it Forward Fridays:

JaxCoHome would love to hear about people doing good in our community. If you know someone that is a champion for our community, the environment, education or local business, fill out the nomination form by clicking here.

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PGSD Athletics Gets An Overhaul

The Pascagoula-Gautier School District is making major improvements to War Memorial Stadium in Pascagoula and Vaughn-Wallace Stadium in Gautier in anticipation of the upcoming school year.

     The plans include new field turf at both stadiums as well as a track straight away at Gautier as part of the practice track. For Pascagoula, stadium restrooms are receiving a facelift as well as new track and remodeling a dressing room for the girls’ soccer team. Painting and sealing the bleachers, renovations underneath the visitors’ side of the stadium and a new press box on the home side are also part of the summer plans.

     Other projects include painting the exterior of the Panther baseball field house, refurbishing the tennis courts at South Field, painting the South Field house and new sidewalks, bleachers and concession stand at South Field. Renovations for both football fields is $3.4 million with other venue improvements valued at $1.8 million.

     “These projects are among some of goals of the district’s 2017-2021 five-year strategic plan,” said Superintendent Wayne Rodolfich. “This strategic plan was written by 250 community members and school district employees. Improvements at both stadiums was one of the goals for members of the athletic strategic planning committee.”

     Rodolfich said the improvements to the stadiums will benefit not only those who come to watch the various sporting events, but those who use the field including the football team, lacrosse, team, soccer teams, band and cheerleaders as well as the members of the track team.

     “The new turf will provide a consistently-level playing field which will dry quickly, and the improvements will give our stadiums a cleaner, high-quality appearance,” Rodolfich said. “We moved our high school graduations to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum this year so we could go ahead and begin work on these stadium improvements and be ready in time for football season. There’s been a great deal of excitement throughout the community about the projects.”

Gautier-HS-Football-Soccer-Drawing-skinny-both-blue-end-zone PGSD Athletics Gets An Overhaul Gautier-HS-Football-Soccer-Drawing-skinny-both-blue-end-zone PGSD Athletics Gets An Overhaul

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Reserve educator brings lessons to life

ranew-of-grand-bay-nerrjpg-9b532ce4cb680837 Reserve educator brings lessons to life

Teachers and educators do what they do not for themselves, but for future generations. Teachers prepare children to be adults and the impact they will have on the world, and one of Jackson County’s educators who really take this duty to heart is Rick Ranew.

As the education specialist at the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Ranew works with other staff members to design and implement programs that address current coastal issues on the school level from kindergarten to 12th grade.

“This is a job I’ve always wanted to have,” Ranew said. “What I do, basically, is that I develop curriculums for students kindergarten through 12th grade that deals with environmental science. I work alongside my staff. They do research, and I do everything from water sheds to estuaries to water quality to wetlands and litter.” 

Not only is Ranew able to educate any visitors to the Grand Bay NERR about the local environment and the impact they have on nature, but he also takes opportunities to visit Jackson County schools and bring the lessons to the classroom.

“I’ve gone on the road to schools that can’t come here,” he explained. “I just visited East Central Middle School, and I work to talk about what they are already covering in their classes.”

ranew-of-grand-bay-nerrjpg-9b532ce4cb680837 Reserve educator brings lessons to life

Classes that are able to take a field trip to the reserve are able to have Rick bring the lesson to life. They are able to actually see and experience what they are learning, and the visiting science teachers see the value in these visits.

“Once again, we have not been disappointed,” said Deborah Richardson, a 4th grade teacher at Escatawpa Upper Elementary School in Moss Point. “Our field trip to the Grand Bay NERR on April 28, was outstanding. Mr. Rick Ranew and his volunteer were so kind and knowledgable. The students and teachers truly enjoyed the experience. Some of the students who participated had this to say: ‘It was fantastic; the hike along the boardwalk was fun.’ ‘I liked the scavenger hunt and the animals we got to see.’ ‘It was especially exciting to see the osprey nest and deer tracks.’

As the website states, ‘The Education Program of the Grand Bay NERR is integrated program of life-long learning opportunities designed to educate a variety of audiences on the importance of wisely caring for estuary, or coastal resources.’ Our students here at Moss Point Escatawpa Upper, due to the social economic makeup of the community, do not get the do not get the opportunity to visit such sites on their own. It is only through the generous offers that are funded by the state we are able to adventure out to our own backyard and participate in the k-16 Community Educational Program. Being able to visit the many habitats of the reserve as living laboratories and classrooms truly brings it to life for the students. To experience a field trip to the Grand Bay NERR first-hand is a once in a lifetime opportunity is not only educational, but thrilling for these students. As a teacher, it’s priceless to be able to take our students to a world that we know they’ll never be able to experience on their own.

Again, thank you for a memorable educational experience at the Grand Bay NERR in Moss Point, Mississippi.”

ranew-of-grand-bay-nerrjpg-9b532ce4cb680837 Reserve educator brings lessons to life

Not only will Ranew take student visitors, but he enjoys teaching those of all ages.

“I recently had veterans come out, and I gave them a tour,” Ranew said. “We’re going to have them come back out in the fall for fishing. I also do a program during the summer where I take retired people and put them together with some students, and it allows students to tap into the wisdom of these senior citizens. I’m all about inspiring and enthusiasm.”

The passion for his work is clear to anyone who has the chance to speak to Ranew. 

“I love what I’m doing. It’s not that I have to do it, I get to do it, he explained. “I’m 63 and retirement isn’t in my vocabulary. I want to inspire future generations to become good stewards of the coastal habitats, knowing that seafood comes from estuaries and rivers. I encourage them, especially young ladies, to go into science. Our best scientists are young ladies on staff. I am very passionate of taking care of what we’ve got. And one day they will be one ones making decisions for the coast. If I can inspire one student when I have a group out here, I’ve done my job.”

The impact he has on his students is a lasting one, as some visitors will even say that want to grow up to be like Rick Ranew.

ranew-of-grand-bay-nerrjpg-9b532ce4cb680837 Reserve educator brings lessons to life
ranew-of-grand-bay-nerrjpg-9b532ce4cb680837 Reserve educator brings lessons to life

 

Pay it Forward Fridays:

JaxCoHome would love to hear about people doing good in our community. If you know someone that is a champion for our community, the environment, education or local business, fill out the nomination form by clicking here.

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Phi Theta Kappa chapters win top awards at international convention

Phi Theta Kappa members from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Jackson County Campus attended the Phi Theta Kappa International Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, April 5-9.  

The Pi Epsilon Chapter at the Jackson County Campus was recognized as one of the top 100 chapters in Phi Theta Kappa out of more than 1,300 chapters. The results are based on a summation of scores from Honors in Action and College Projects.  The team’s Honors in Action project was entitled “The Elephant in the Room” and it focused on breaking the negative stigmas associated with mental illnesses. The College project focused on getting students to meet with advisors for successful planning of course selection.

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Jackson County campus biology students host Gene Fair

DSCN8837_Barber-768x1024 Jackson County campus biology students host Gene Fair

Madeline Barber, of Dauphin Island, Alabama, a biology student at MGCCC’s Jackson County Campus, designed a project on Pulmonary atresia from found objects she discovered on the beach near her home. The project was part of the Gene Fair held at the campus on April 26-27.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biology students at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Jackson County Campus held a Gene Fair on April 26-27 to raise awareness about genetically transmitted diseases and disorders. The event included artistic displays created by more than 80 biology students that represented diseases and disorders like Sickle Cell Anemia, Cystic Fibrosis and Down Syndrome.

“The point of the Gene Fair is to offer biology students the opportunity to learn about abnormalities in genes, how those abnormalities may be passed from generation to generation, and the kinds of treatment and therapy available for them,” said Lynn Zimmerman, biology instructor. “It also offers our student body here on campus the chance to learn about then as well.”

Madeline Barber, of Dauphin Island, Alabama, is a freshman biology student. Her project was on Pulmonary atresia, which she chose to research because her cousin has the disorder.  “During the first year of her life, my cousin had three surgeries on her heart,” she said.  “She is doing fine now, but it is always a worry.” 

Barber said her project is made of found pieces from Dauphin Island, including driftwood and parts of a cast net.  “I wanted it to represent where I was from as well as what my cousin has gone through.”

Pamela Martin, of Pascagoula, chose to research Rheumatoid arthritis, a condition she suffers from personally.  “I have a grandfather and an aunt with RA and I suffer with it in my ankles,” she said.  “At 46 years old, I never knew it could be this bad.” 

She said she was a certified phlebotomist working in a local hospital when she began to feel pain in her feet and ankles.  It became so bad that she had to give up her job, which required her to spend most of her days standing and walking.  “It was more than I could stand and I knew I had to find a new career doing something where I could sit more often.” Now she is studying Human Services and hopes to be a social worker.

“I have learned a lot about RA during the course of my research and have uncovered a few things I can do to make it better, like a special diet and exercises,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed doing this project.”

Barbara Smith, of Vancleave, researched Marfan Syndrome because it affects several members of her family.  “A disorder of the connective tissue, those with Marfan Syndrome are usually tall, thin, with long fingers and toes,” she said.  “They may have flexible joints and scoliosis. In fact, many people say Abraham Lincoln probably suffered from it.” Smith, 80, is an avid quilter and decided to use quilting in her project.

Zimmerman said this is the first year they have held the Gene Fair, but they plan to do it again.  “Getting students to understand how biology impacts them every day is an important part of this class,” said Zimmerman.  “We want to create scientists, make them see themselves in that role.  Through this project, which I encouraged them to make personal, they are able to see how science helps us diagnose, manage and treat, and even prevent many of these diseases and disorders. Hopefully, it helps them see why biology and other sciences are such valuable career choices.”

DSCN8837_Barber-768x1024 Jackson County campus biology students host Gene Fair

Barbara Smith, of Vancleave, made a quilt project that represents Marfan Syndrome. During the Gene Fair, students researched a variety of genetically transmitted diseases and disorders. The projects they designed were artistic representations of their research.

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Pascagoula teacher shows passion for students’ growth

0010-drones Pascagoula teacher shows passion for students' growth

Many people know teachers don’t do what they do because of the glamorous lifestyle it offers. A lot of teachers do what they do because they want to help others not only learn, but love to learn. They might be inspired by previous teachers who helped them love to learn. After spending half a day in Michele Brasher’s classroom, it’s easy to see that this is exactly what she has done with her students at Trent Lott Academy in Pascagoula. 

Brasher has 40 students that come to her classroom throughout the week as part of the IDEAS program. Intellectual Development and Enrichment for Advanced Students is the gifted program for students in grades 2nd-6th at the Pascagoula-Gautier school district. Students are pulled out of their regular classrooms once a week and spend five hours of the day either with Michele Brasher’s or with one of the other two IDEAS teachers at Trent Lott Academy.

“I’ve been teaching for a total of 16 years now, and this is my 11th year teaching gifted,” Brasher explained. “I became a gifted teacher because my daughter had tested into the program [when she was in school], so I was interested in it as a parent. The more I researched the program and the gifted child, I decided to take the gifted [teacher] certification to make me a better parent. Then an opening came up for a gifted teacher, and it all just worked out.”

As an IDEAS teacher, Brasher allows her classroom to be an escape for students, if only once a week.

“There isn’t much down time. We work in smaller groups and we are up moving around, ” Brasher explained. “This is their release from their regular class. Here, they don’t have to stay at a desk. They don’t have to be quiet. The students are comfortable talking to use because when they are here for five hours out of their day, the students become a little family unit.”

Because IDEAS isn’t part of the graded curriculum, Brasher and her colleagues have more freedom in what they teach the students. Not only does Brasher try to challenge and engage the students in a different way than their regular classrooms, but she always wants her students to leave her classroom equipped the skills needed to succeed not only in middle school, but in real life.

0010-drones Pascagoula teacher shows passion for students' growth
0010-drones Pascagoula teacher shows passion for students' growth

“We work on skills like group dynamics, creative thinking skills, focusing on possible careers, communication, research and financial literacy,” Brasher said. “We not only focus on science fields in working with robotics and the drones I bought purchased with a grant I received last year, but we also have projects on famous artists and explore that side of their interests as well.”

The students in her class can have to opportunity to do things like sculpt pendants for Mother’s Day gifts to dissecting sheep brains.

Not all opportunities the students receive in the IDEAS class come at no cost, so Brasher works to receive grants for her classroom. In 2016, Brasher received the Leo Seal grant and used the $2,000 to purchase drones for her class. 

After spending an afternoon in the classroom, it is easy to see the connection Brasher has made with her students. They felt comfortable talking with her about their personal lives and discussing siblings and relationships. It’s clear that Brasher has a passion for teaching and her students. It is clear that her nomination was spot on.

“Michele Brasher is a true teacher in every sense of the word. She truly loves all of her students at Trent Lott Academy and pushes them to be the very best they can be by challenging them at every turn and providing them with hands-on, out-of-the-box learning experiences. Teaching 5th and 6th graders is a special calling, one that Michelle has embraced.”

0010-drones Pascagoula teacher shows passion for students' growth
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MGCCC’s Dr. Javier Gómez named 2017 Moody Institute Fellow

JGomez-copy-248x300 MGCCC’s Dr. Javier Gómez named 2017 Moody Institute FellowDr. Javier Gómez, language arts instructor at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Jackson County Campus, has been named a Moody Institute Fellow for 2017. He was awarded $1,000 and was honored at the Mississippi Community College Foundation Board meeting on April 25. Five instructors from the state’s 15 community and junior colleges were selected as fellows in 2017.

The Moody Institute Trust Fund (MITF) was established in 1990 in honor of Dr. George V. Moody, the first executive director of the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges (SBCJC).  The purpose of the Moody Institute is to provide funds for enrichment experiences for faculty members employed in Mississippi’s public community and junior colleges.  

Gómez, who teaches Spanish and Japanese, will use the funds to return to Japan and study the dialect and culture in the Kansai region. Gómez lived in Tokyo (in the Kanto region) for 14 years, but said the dialect in the two regions is very different.  This research will allow him to teach his students about those differences, especially considering Kansai is home to Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto, the country’s second most populated area outside of the greater Tokyo area.

“I will leave in June and spend part of the summer in Japan,” he said.  “I’m very excited about this opportunity and appreciate the fellowship funds that will help me make that trip.”

Gómez, who was a 2016 Instructor of the Year at Gulf Coast, received his Bachelor of Arts with honors from the University of Florida and his Master of Arts in the Teaching Languages (MATL) from the University of Southern Mississippi.  In 2016, he received his doctorate in Instructional Technology and Design from USM, receiving the Instructional Technology Academic Achievement, Ph.D. Program Award.  In 2013, Gómez was the Humanities Teacher of the Year for the Jackson County Campus.

Before coming to teach at MGCCC, Gómez taught English as a Second Language (ESL), Japanese, French and Spanish to 7th-12 grade students in Tokyo.  While there, he was the DoDEA Pacific Lingua-Fest co-director, Japan School District Foreign Language Festival coordinator and he inaugurated the Japan-United States Speech Contest for American and Host Nation high school students.  He also helped design and develop the DoDEA-Wide Virtual School Spanish course.

“The great teachers I have encountered in my life—from my first elementary teacher in New Jersey, who worked with me when I couldn’t speak English, to the wonderful instructors I work alongside today at MGCCC—have inspired my attitudes about teaching, learning, and sharing,” he said.  “And, I believe, they have made me a much better educator. It’s because of their impact on my life that I am here, doing what I’ve been doing for 22 years.”

A native of Caguas, Puerto Rico, Gómez’s parents moved to the mainland when he was in fourth grade. His dad, Gerardo, worked for the U.S. Merchant Marine/Department of the Navy, and the family eventually settled in Florida.  Gómez graduated from Interlachen High School in Putnam County, Florida, where his parents live today, and considers that home.

A believer in using technology to teach, Gómez used his Instructor of the Year award to purchase virtual reality goggles that have transported students to take tango lessons in Argentina, surf in Puerto Rico, dance in Cuba and visit cathedrals and museums in Spain. 

“Our MGCCC world language students are truly enjoying immersing themselves in the culture of various areas of the world, something I encourage them to do as much as possible,” he said. “In fact, after completing Spanish and Japanese classes here, several of my students have continued their world language education at various universities in the state and a few have transferred to Japan to continue their education. This is the reason as to why I’m returning to Japan this summer, why I visit different regions of the world as often as possible, to teach from experience. That is the best way to learn languages, appreciate other cultures, and embrace everyone.”

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