2022 Teachers of Distinction: 30 Tupelo educators honored with prestigious award
TUPELO • “Hard work does pay off,” Terence Adair said, holding a plaque and $1,000 check after being named a Tupelo Public School District Teacher of Distinction on Monday night.
The Tupelo Middle School seventh and eighth grade weightlifting teacher previously worked six years as an assistant teacher and is currently in his second year as a certified teacher.
“I teach my kids to take every day as it comes, but when it gets hard, dig a little deeper, grind a little bit harder and when we get through that day, we’ll worry about the next,” Adair said. “And when it comes, we’ll do the same thing over and over again. I teach them that’s the only way you can get through life and accomplish something.
“We sweat blue and we bleed gold,” he added. “Go Wave!”
Adair was one of 27 teachers and three assistant teachers in the Tupelo Public School District to receive one of the prestigious awards, presented during a ceremony at the BancorpSouth Conference Center. It was the largest group yet to be honored with Teacher of Distinction awards.
“Thank you very much for the work that you do every day in this school district,” TPSD Superintendent Dr. Rob Picou told the teachers gathered Monday night. “It is recognized, the community supports it, and I just want to thank you.”
The awards were cosponsored by the Association for Excellence in Education (AEE) and the CREATE Foundation. This was the first time in three years educators gathered together for the Teacher of Distinction awards. In 2020 and 2021, teachers were celebrated in small groups because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When you walk into a Tupelo Public School District school, you are surrounded by educators who care deeply and work tirelessly to support our students,” AEE President Stewart McMillan said.
The Teacher of Distinction Awards program was founded by the CREATE Foundation in 1999 to recognize, reward and support teachers and assistant teachers within TPSD.
Teachers are nominated for the award by students, other teachers, administrators, parents and citizens. An outside panel of professional educators selects each of the winners each year.
Winning teachers received a plaque and a $1,000 check; assistant teachers received a plaque and $500.
Kayty Rawson, Tupelo High School Spanish teacher, said she was shocked just to be nominated because there’s so much behind-the-scenes work that happens as a teacher. To have that work acknowledged with an award, she said, is humbling.
The 16-year teacher is in her fifth year as a teacher for TPSD.
Rawson was pregnant with her now-15-year-old son when she began teaching. She was overwhelmed not knowing what kind of teacher and parent she was going to be.
“I made a promise to God that I would teach every student who came through my classroom the way I wanted my son’s future teachers to treat him,” Rawson said. “I’m not perfect, and of course, I make mistakes, but I’ve pretty much lived up to that.”
She believes in karma in the sense that what goes around comes around, so her goal is to sow into her students what she hopes her children reap.