By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Melissa Cockrell may not be a teacher, but she has discovered the joy of helping students learn.
Cockrell was named the Lee County School District’s Parent of the Year on Tuesday night in recognition of her extensive efforts at Saltillo Primary School. Her greatest pleasure in her volunteer work is one shared by many professional educators.
“I enjoy being in a classroom and helping and seeing the light bulb go off for students,” she said.
Cockrell was recognized during the district’s school board meeting at its administrative office. Also honored were the Parents of the Year from each of its 13 schools. The district winner was chosen by a committee of three administrators.
Cockrell moves on to the state competition.
“She takes a lot of time to care for and notice our kids, and she is a vital part of our parent involvement,” said Saltillo Primary Principal Ken Smith.
Cockrell serves as vice president of Saltillo Primary’s Parent Teacher Organization and is involved with the Teacher Care Committee, reading in the library, the spring and fall book fairs, Spring Fling and volunteering in the classroom. She occasionally substitutes at the school.
The Teacher Care Committee is a way for parents to show teachers how much they appreciate the educators’ work.
Cockrell said she believes it takes parents working with educators to continue to improve the quality of education in public schools.
“In today’s world with budget cuts, schools need extra help and anything we can do to help teachers and better the education for all students,” said the homemaker.
She and her husband, Britt, have two children, Jordan, a sixth-grader at Guntown Middle, and Trace, a second grader at Saltillo Primary.
Her favorite volunteer experience is working with the school’s Tiger Time program, in which students get intensive reading and writing practice for three hours. She staffs one of the centers to help teachers give students more individualized instruction.
“As a mom, you want to do anything that can help kids better themselves and better their education,” she said. “You never know when it will click. As a mom, you want your kids to do well, and you want all kids to do well.”
PARENTS OF THE YEAR at individual Lee County schools include: Jennifer Keyes (Guntown Middle), Niki Thomas (Mooreville Elementary),
Kevin Beard (Mooreville Middle), Sherry Kingsley (Mooreville High), Antoinette Freeman (Plantersville Middle), Dianne Ludt (Saltillo Elementary), Dana Finch (Saltillo High), Melissa Cockrell (Saltillo Primary), Brenae Stephen (Shannon Elementary), Shannon Johnson (Shannon Middle), Kenneth and Teresa Roberts (Shannon High), Lane Kelly (Shannon Primary) and Kim Walker (Verona Elementary).