March 2022 Winner - Phyllis Skipper:(Lamar High School)


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Meridian Star Article

Students in Phyllis Skipper's classes at Lamar High School learn mathematics, engineering, robotics and more, but within each class, they also get lessons in problem solving.

Skipper, who was named the March 2022 Golden Apple Teacher of the Month Friday, said knowing how to identify and solve problems helps her students succeed.

"Sometimes students want the answers from the back of the book, but life isn't a book, and life doesn't have answers in the back," she said. "Some of the classes and the ways we teach now enable them to realize that."

GOLDEN APPLE WINNER: Lamar's Phyllis Skipper uses STEM to open pathways to success

Helping students test and grow their own abilities and build their confidence in what they can do is both fun and rewarding, Skipper said. But, it's also important for students to learn to accept failure.

"They learn to fail, and everything is not going to work every time," she said. "I think that's important. You're going to fail at something something, sometime, somewhere, and if you learn through failure, new ideas come about."

On the robotics team, Skipper said students are responsible for designing, building and troubleshooting custom robots from scratch. The teams learn not only engineering and design but communication, teamwork, problem solving and failure.

Skipper's instruction, however, extends well beyond the classroom walls and even reaches down to the Gulf Coast. Each year, after lessons in physics and rope tying, she leads a group of students to Biloxi, where they put their skills to the test on a Biloxi Schooner cruise.

"They go with Skipper on a three hour cruise," she said.

Skipper also leads students on trips around the country for competitions and educational experiences that give them the opportunity to put their STEM knowledge to use solving real-world problems.

Being named a Golden Apple teacher was a total shock and a humbling experience, Skipper said. Teachers work hard and want what's best for their students, she said, and being honored is proof that her more than four decades in education were not spent in vain.

"Every teacher here at Lamar works hard and gives their best every day," she said. "I just feel like this is special because I represent them."