April 10, 2017 9:52:48 AM
Chuck Yarborough, U.S. history teacher at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus, has placed first alternate in the statewide Teacher of the Year program for the 2016-17 school year.
Yarborough was among four finalists selected by the Mississippi Department of Education in a program that recognizes exemplary teachers in the state.
"It's an incredible honor to be in the group," Yarborough said. "That's kind of cliche ... but it's true. I'm fundamentally honored by the fact that I'm in the midst of all these other great teachers, all of whom are shaping their community and our state in some kind of positive way. It's pretty cool to be recognized."
Yarborough and his family attended a luncheon in Jackson honoring the top four finalists Friday where MDE representatives announced the sixth grade teacher Luke Daniels, of Upper Petal Elementary School, as Mississippi Teacher of the Year. Daniels will travel to Washington, D.C., with other state teachers of the year to meet the President and first lady and attend a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House. As runner-up, Yarborough will attend if Daniels cannot go.
A history teacher at MSMS since 1997, Yarborough is arguably best-known in Columbus for organizing the annual Tales from the Crypt program, in which his history students dress up and perform as figures from the city's past in Friendship Cemetery; and the 8 of May Program, where students put on choral and dramatic performances in celebration of Emancipation Day in Sandfield Cemetery.
"(Yarborough) is a fabulous teacher," said Kelly Brown, director of academic affairs at MSMS. "He has been here for 20-plus years and his contributions to MSMS are above and beyond. For us to get alternate teacher of the year for MSMS is a great tribute for our school."
Yarborough said he loves helping students learn and see ways to make a difference in their community.
"My favorite thing (about teaching) is the magic that happens when bright young people come to understand that they can shape their world in positive ways," he said. "And I see that happen frequently in my classroom. I see it happen in the cemetery, whether it's Friendship Cemetery or Sandfield Cemetery for the 8 of May program. ... There's a point at which ... it just kind of dawns on (students) that they can do this for the rest of their lives, that they can shape their community. And I tell them to me that's magic, and I can see that happen on a yearly basis."
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