By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – Lynne Mize’s husband once asked her when she planned to go on her next mission trip, referring to an outing in the couple’s church.
“Tomorrow,” the Joyner Elementary music teacher replied. “Every day I feel like I am on a mission to impact and change lives.”
Mize, who called her job “a true mission field,” was named the Tupelo Public School District’s Teacher of the Year on Tuesday night.
She was honored at the district’s school board meeting at Lawhon Elementary, along with the Teachers of the Year for each of the district’s schools, and will represent Tupelo in the competition for state Teacher of the Year.
“She is a model for all of us,” said Joyner Principal Kim Foster, who also was the district’s Administrator of the Year. “She possesses a deep heart for wanting to make a difference in each kid’s life. She is an encouragement for us, and she helps us set high expectations in all things.”
Mize has taught for 31 years, including the past five at Joyner. She also has taught music at Church Street, Pierce Street and Rankin elementary schools.
Her fellow teachers spoke of how she always is eager to help with various responsibilities at the school. Art teacher Caren Barber told of the time Mize purchased a birthday cake for a student who didn’t receive one.
“She truly loves kids, and she wants them to feel special and to succeed at whatever they are doing,” said Joyner PE teacher Glenda Clay. “She is interested in the whole child, not just in her music class. She wants them to succeed in life.”
Mize is a National Board Certified Teacher and a CREATE Teacher of Distinction. She helped both Pierce Street Elementary and schools from around the state implement the Mississippi Arts Commission’s arts integration program and has served as lead teacher trainer for the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra’s Children’s Concerts, including the current Link Up program with Carnegie Hall.
Mize also was a lead consultant with the Arts Education Partnerships, the United States Department of Education and the Council of Chief State School Officers on the production of the book “Third Space: Where Learning Matters.”
In addition to teaching music, she leads a reading intervention each morning.
“I really believe teaching is a calling,” she said. “It becomes the very fabric of who you are… It is a difficult profession, but also the most rewarding because you can see how you can transform a life.”
Individual school winners
Susan Hankins (Carver), Talana Dover (Early Childhood Education Center), Amanda Koonlaba (Lawhon), Rachel Beasley (Lawndale), Kathy Corban (Milam), Teresa Winter (Parkway), Candace McFarland (Pierce Street), Jodie Thompson (Rankin), Jeni Chandler (Thomas Street), Amber Nichols Buckley (Tupelo High) and Mark Garrett (Tupelo Middle).