Holbrook of Saltillo named

By Jennifer Ginn

Daily Journal

Patsy Martin Holbrook loves her job.

Holbrook, 45, has been a special education teacher at Saltillo Elementary School for the past five years.

"I truly enjoy this," she said. "I think this is what I was supposed to be doing. I love being in the classroom. I've seen the difference I've made in the lives of these children."

At its meeting Tuesday, the Lee County School Board recognized Holbrook's dedication with a little recognition of their own. She was named as the Lee County Teacher of the Year for 2001.

The right to an education

Holbrook began her teaching career 11 years ago as a physical education instructor in the South Pike Consolidated School District.

Holbrook said she spent less than two years as a P.E. teacher before she decided that she belonged in another area.

"I became attached to the special ed children while I was a physical education teacher," she said. "I went back to school and got my master's.

"I've always felt those particular children needed someone special to, I don't know, be there for them. A lot of them are not very outgoing. They're not well accepted. I realized that and I was just drawn to them."

Holbrook works with students who have learning disabilities. The majority of them have attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Holbrook laughs when asked about how she has learned to teach children who often have a hard time sitting still.

"I feel that I'm hyperactive as well, so we get along really well," she said with a laugh. "In fact, when I'm teaching, I'm very animated. I'm just excited about the whole experience.

"The more active I am, the more active they are. I really have to watch myself. But when I come in and I am passive, they don't like that."

A gifted teacher

Saltillo Elementary School Principal Ben McClung said Holbrook is good at what she does.

"Ms. Holbrook is just a truly dedicated teacher," McClung said. "She does a wonderful job working with her children. She's the type of person, her teaching time is sacred to her."

In Lee County, the teachers at each school in the district vote on a Teacher of the Year to represent their school. Those winners are sent on to the district, which uses a committee made up of people not associated with the district to select the district-wide winner.

Winners from each school district are sent on to the state to be considered as the Mississippi Teacher of the Year.

Special education teachers, said McClung, often do not receive much recognition.

"That just speaks so highly of her, the job that she does," McClung said. "We only have four other teacher that do the same thing she does here. The regular ed teachers felt highly enough of her that they voted her as our Teacher of the Year. They realize the job that she does.

"She's just a good person. Bottom line (she's a) good person, good teacher, works hard."

Lee County School Superintendent Johnny Green said Holbrook is an excellent teacher.

"Patsy, by all accounts, does an excellent job," he said. "She's ... not just a good teacher, but person."

Holbrook said she isn't sure exactly when she decided to become a teacher. It just seemed to be the natural thing to do.

"When I think back when I was growing up, the role models in the community were all teachers," she said. "When I had to declare a major ..., I didn't know about doctors and lawyers. I just knew the teacher had made such an impact on my life, certainly I wanted to do the same for someone else.

"My philosophy is that I believe all children can learn and they deserve to be taught. I make it a point to really push them and challenge them. I also let them know that they can do things that maybe somebody else said the couldn't. I don't give up easily on them."

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