Gifted teacher gets her own gift

Other district Teachers of the Year:

Joyner – Caren Barber

Lawhon – Susan Lucas

Parkway – Molly Farned

Pierce Street – Karen Parker

Rankin – Chequitta Johnson

Thomas Street – Sherry Rial

Carver – Jacques Shumpert

Lawndale – Krista Weems

Milam – Paul Moton

Tupelo Middle – Cindy Collier

Tupelo High – Virginia Richey

Kay Collins wins Tupelo Teacher of the Year.

By Mack Spencer

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Church Street Elementary School teacher Kay Collins, with 24 years of experience, had a hard time talking Tuesday.

“I don't know why I'm so dry. I've never been speechless before,” said Collins, who had just won Teacher of the Year in the Tupelo Public School District.

“I didn't make a speech for tonight. I thought that would be unlucky,” she said. “Seeing the list of Teachers of the Year, I know why I won. I'm the oldest, and I've had time to do more.”

This is the second straight year that a Church Street teacher has won the honor. Last year's winner, Elaine Lovorn, was on hand to see awarding and take a little teasing from school board President Michael Clayborne about passing on the crown.

“She's the queen, anyway, not me,” Lovorn said.

Collins continued to look a little stunned at her win through news interviews, even though the lead-up to the award was a giveaway to her.

“I was pretty sure when (Clayborne) said 24 years,” she said. “These are such outstanding teachers, to be chosen is a very big honor. I have to say thanks to my students and their parents. I work with a wonderful staff at a wonderful school.”

Collins has taught second- and third-grade gifted at Church Street for 11 years. She also taught at Tupelo Middle School, Milam Junior High School and King Elementary School in the city district and Verona and Belden schools in Lee County.

She has led a number of professional development workshops and mentors National Board certification candidates, was a Teacher of Distinction in 1999 and was inducted into the Mississippi Hall of Master Teachers in 1998. She coordinates the Gum Tree Writing Contest and coaches students for Rural Voices Radio on Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

Her philosophy of teaching – and the secret of her success, she says – is to make sure that all students feel wanted and loved, whether they are in her class or not. She greets all the students every morning in the school hall and prides herself on knowing their names.

“I know the students. I have a relationship with all of them,” Collins said.

Collins is married to Harry T. Collins and has three children, Patrick and Tatum Collins and Amelia Arnold.

Contact Mack Spencer at 678-1582 or

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