Mississippi students and teachers cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time

Published 4:13 pm Monday, October 16, 2017

By Katherine Hollister
Originally published by Oxford Stories

One of the biggest problems facing Mississippi students and teachers is the limited amount of time they have to cover a wide variety of topics.

Tiffany Casey, a fourth-grade teacher at Northeast Lauderdale Elementary School in Meridian, believes covering so much material in a fast-paced environment can lead students to become less confident in their work. She says quality is more important than quantity.

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Casey, who has taught different grades over the years, including first, second, and now fourth, has been pouring her heart and love for learning into young minds for 11 years. Though she has enjoyed every grade she’s taught, Casey said one of her favorite things about teaching fourth grade is how loving, caring and independent her students are.

There is so much to be done in the everyday life of a teacher. Early mornings involve preparing lesson plans and last-minute details before students arrive for homeroom. With only seven hours in a school day, it’s a wonder how teachers manage to get everything done.

One challenge is Common Core—a state-implemented curriculum plan for public school systems. Casey, who graduated from the University of West Alabama and attended graduate school at William Carey, has mixed feelings about it.

While she says this curriculum plan helps students progress in math and science skills, some students are unable to master these skills due to the amount of information being thrown at them.

Leanne Benson is also a fourth-grade teacher at Northeast Lauderdale Elementary. Benson has a master’s degree in elementary education from East Carolina University.

Benson supports Common Core saying, “It helps [the students] learn better.” She believes Common Core provides more education and gives students a more in-depth understanding of mathematics.

Fortunately, for the fourth-grade teachers and students at Northeast, if there is a child who is falling behind in his or her classwork, Latika Cockrell is there to help. Cockrell not only helps students but teachers in their tasks throughout the day.

She is a teacher’s assistant for fourth grade at Northeast. She provides remedial help to students falling behind in their studies during their recess period and during regular classroom instruction.

Casey says she’s thankful for Cockrell’s help in her classroom and says it benefits students. However, she adds the best help a student can receive outside of school is from their parents. She notes that students who score higher in their studies have parents who are actively involved in their education, and the opposite is true for those with lower scores.


Casey’s advice to anyone seeking a career in education: “Stay focused, be flexible. Remember you are here for [the students]. You may not be [doing things] as fast as other classrooms, but that is okay.”