December 2018 Winner - Tim Caldwell:(West Lauderdale High School)


Meridian Family of Stations -

Meridian Star Article

COLLINSVILLE — They come to him in high school, and he turns them into future engineers, doctors, scientists and mathematicians.

His love for mathematics and his students is what keeps West Lauderdale High School upper-level math teacher Tim Caldwell motivated after 32 years as an educator.

"I am a little old-fashioned and old school when it comes to mathematics," Caldwell said. "I was taught that the only way to learn mathematics is through repetition. There are probably a lot more teachers out there who are a lot more dynamic than I am, because I am so old school.

"I just think my students can see in me when I am teaching that I love mathematics and care about them, and it just works."

For his dedication to his students, Caldwell was named the Golden Apple teacher of December at a surprise ceremony Dec. 14. Colleagues and students applauded the veteran teacher, including Principal Shane Rogers and Assistant Principal Sandy Reid.

"Tim Caldwell is one of the finest educators I have ever met," Rogers said. "He has an unbelievable content knowledge, and he truly cares about the learning and success of each and every one of his students. I cannot imagine anyone being more deserving of such a wonderful honor."

"Mr. Caldwell is an outstanding teacher who loves mathematics and thrives on watching his students learn the content he presents," Reid added. "We consistently hear from his former students as they are extremely successful in engineering programs, college and their careers. I am honored to work with such a dedicated teacher."

A letter nominating Caldwell for the award praising his abilities stated, "This teacher has been an outstanding teacher, motivator, and mentor. He has been a great influence for several years at West Lauderdale, as well as Meridian Community College. All of these engineers, doctors, mathematicians, physicists, and scientists stated that it was this teacher’s motivation, mentoring, and teaching that got them interested in math and what they could accomplish through its application in the world around us.

"Some of his former students now operate power plants, oil refineries, chemical plants, and are practicing physicians."

West Lauderdale High School students Brooks Hull and Lily Ramsey both called Caldwell the perfect recipient for the Golden Apple Award.

"He truly cares about each and every one of his students and wants each student to reach their maximum potential," Hull said. "He has more grit than any other teacher I have ever come across."

"I believe there is no other teacher more deserving of this award than Mr. Caldwell," Ramsey said. "He is genuinely focused on preparing his students for tougher courses in college and making sure of a top mathematics score on the ACT. "His efforts of pushing his students to their highest capacity have made such an impact on my life."

Caldwell said it’s good to hear from former students and how West Lauderdale teachers prepared them for their future.

"It always makes you proud of the fact you were able to have the opportunity to steer a student in a direction they can excel at, and when it happens it is the greatest feeling of all," Caldwell said.

After graduating from high school at West Lauderdale, Caldwell attended East Mississippi Community College on a basketball scholarship. He then attended Mississippi State University, then began his teaching career at Hickory High School. He and his wife, both teachers, moved to Georgia for four years before coming back to Mississippi. Caldwell taught at Clarkdale for four years, then became a math instructor at Meridian Community College for eight years before taking the math teacher position at West Lauderdale where he has been for the past 12 years.

"I always knew this is where I wanted to end up – I love this community and West Lauderdale," Caldwell said. "We just got lucky enough that positions were open and I was allowed to come back where I came as a kid...back to where I wanted to come back to."

Barbara Jones, director of the Meridian Community College Foundation, presents West Lauderdale High School upper-level math teacher Tim Caldwell with the Golden Apple Award on Friday, Dec. 14.

"I am here for my kids – to help them understand the information, to succeed, and help them realize it takes dedication, discipline, and a lot of hard work, but they can strive and succeed in whatever they want to do as long as they are willing to work," Caldwell said of what he tries to instill in his students. "That’s the message I was taught as a kid, that you can do anything you want to do as long as you are willing to put the time into it, be disciplined, and work at it."

Caldwell said he would like his students to remember him as someone who worked as hard as he asked them to do for him.

"I would like them to understand mathematics is important, and the subjects we were learning were important to get them to the next level in what they wanted to succeed in," Caldwell said. "But, I want them to learn some things from me about life in general – being mannerly, being willing to work, and having discipline.

"To remember just good ole life lessons that will help them along the way, not just mathematics stuff."