By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
BLUE MOUNTAIN – Coming full circle to the place that gave her the tools and grounding for a career as an educator couldn’t be more fulfilling for Beverly Moffitt.
From the classroom to administration, and now back in the classroom, Moffitt’s teaching career so far has extended beyond three decades.
She’s now an instructor at Blue Mountain College helping other aspiring teachers find their passion in the classroom.
“I came to Blue Mountain as a freshman in 1971, but wanted to go to Mississippi State,” Moffitt said. “My daddy told me he would send me anywhere I wanted to go if I would spend my first year at Blue Mountain College. After I was on campus for a few weeks I knew this was where I wanted to get my college education.”
A Delta native from Leland, Moffitt married Ripley native Tom Moffitt and became thoroughly entrenched in Tippah County. Their son, Heath Moffitt, did not have the option of attending Blue Mountain since it was a women’s college at that time, and went to the University of Mississippi for his degree.
Moffitt came to her job as an instructor in the teacher education program teaching about the exceptional child in 2008. She had worked for 29 years in the South Tippah School District as a teacher and administrator, then after retirement as director of the Rainbow School for three years before returning to Blue Mountain.
The students in her classes – primarily juniors and seniors – are learning the range of issues related to special-needs children along the spectrum from children with disabilities to gifted children, including legal issues and working with families.
A caring and committed teacher is critical, but a child’s most important support is a parent, Moffitt said.
“America is the only country that believes every child should be educated, that advocates for everybody,” she said, “but sometimes it’s good to have a parent that pressures the school, and the school will do what’s required.”
Moffitt invites parents of exceptional children as well as people who teach exceptional children to her classroom so that students can know the current issues and challenges in the topic areas.
“Recently a group of five teachers and administrators visited one of my classes for a panel discussion, which was probably one of the most productive and engaging classes that I have ever had,” she said.
Importantly, every student spends a significant amount of time each semester in local school district classrooms observing how professional educators manage their classrooms.
“The students have many practicum hours of classroom time before they ever get to student teaching,” Moffitt said.
South Tippah Superintendent Frank Campbell and teachers throughout the district have been very supportive of Blue Mountain’s faculty. Particularly beneficial has been Campbell’s inclusion of Blue Mountain faculty in professional development for Common Core State Standards, she said.
One of Moffitt’s favorite elements in the education curriculum is the literary block, in which students evaluate literature for children. She searches far and wide for many types of literature her students can use in classrooms, incorporating the books into their lesson plans.
The work she does at Blue Mountain blends well with Moffitt’s other commitments, like her role as a member of the board of the Mississippi Reading Association and president and conference chair of the Mississippi Early Childhood Association.
Through her years as a resident of Tippah County, the lessons Moffitt learned inside and outside the classroom at Blue Mountain College have been reflected in every part of her life: helping to raise $300,000 for a science and math lab for South Tippah schools; helping lead construction of the Kidz World playground in Ripley; being selected as a South Tippah Teacher of the Year; being selected as a Blue Mountain College Alumna of the Year.
“I feel like Ripley and Blue Mountain College have done more for me than I have for them,” Moffitt said. “I’m thankful God led me in this path, grateful for Northeast Mississippi. It’s a good place.”
Moffitt’s family legacy at Blue Mountain continues with her great-niece, Ruth Ann Tillner, now a student in education at the college. Tillner’s mother and grandmother also are Blue Mountain alumnae.
“It is so much fun seeing her around campus,” Moffitt said.
As she reflects on the meaning of the education experience offered at Blue Mountain College, Moffitt is eager to share all she has gained from the school with her students as well as her family member.
“I feel that my experiences on this campus enabled me to be able to serve others in whatever capacity God had planned for me,” she said. I am so thankful that He has called me back to serve on a campus my daddy sent me to many years ago.”