Tallahassee, FL - When you walk into her classroom, you may see signs all around reading “Greenwood University,” a setting where students can listen in on a campus-style lecture or participate in a dorm study group. This is the learning atmosphere of Florida A&M University (FAMU) Alumna Birdette “Birdy” Hughey, who was recently selected as the 2011 Mississippi Teacher of the Year.
Hughey, a member of the Mississippi Delta Corps of AmeriCorps, is a second-year algebra teacher in Greenwood, Miss.
“It feels really good to win,” said Hughey, a Texas native, “I am very excited and excited for my students. I feel very blessed to win.”
Ron Nurnberg, executive director for Teach for America, Mississippi Delta Chapter, expressed his thoughts on Hughey.
“We’re absolutely thrilled,” said Nurnberg. “She is just so humble and driven. She is very involved in the community. Birdy just understands the children and holds such high expectations. We are elated and proud of what she is doing. I would love to have her cloned 20 more times. FAMU should be just as proud of her.”
Hughey earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the FAMU School of Business and Industry in 2005. While a student at FAMU, she started a program for “troubled youth.”
“FAMU prepared me a lot,” she said. “I was in SBI, the courses I took, internships, being president of my sorority and being involved in Student Government just taught me so much and I am grateful for the opportunities.”
In Hughey’s first year teaching at Greenwood High School, 86 percent of her students scored “proficient” or “advanced” on the state's standardized algebra exam, making Greenwood High School the highest in the Delta and one of the highest performing schools in the state.
When not teaching, Hughey is the coach for the cross country and track teams, the sponsor for a girls service organization, chaperones cheerleading competitions and works the concessions stands at football games.
Hughey became involved with the AmeriCorps program after she took a grant writing class at FAMU. She says she appreciates SBI and its dean, Shawnta Friday-Stroud, for the training and opportunities they provided.
“Because of her work ethic and dedication and all that she has learned at SBI and FAMU, I am not surprised at her winning such a high award,” said Friday-Stroud, “That’s just Birdette. She gives her all in everything that she does and I’m glad that they recognized her.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Birdette Hughey, a second-year algebra teacher at Greenwood High School in Greenwood, Miss., teaches a math problem in her classroom. Hughey was recently selected as the 2011 Mississippi Teacher of the Year.