February 2023 Winner - Hiawatha Satcher:(Enterprise Elementary School)


Meridian Family of Stations -

Meridian Star Article

Enterprise Elementary School teacher Hiawatha Satcher is always excited on the first day of school to meet her new class of students, all with different personalities and skills sets.

"Some of them are very bright and could learn with or without me in the classroom. Then there are those kids that need that little extra," Satcher said. "Sometimes they struggle and they struggle and we work and we work, endlessly day in and day out, working on those skills.

"The most rewarding moment for me is when that light bulb finally goes off and something that they have struggled with all year they finally get," she said. "That lets me know that I have touched that child's life and that I have been a productive teacher for the year."

Satcher has worked at Enterprise Elementary for the past 32 years, including more than 24 as a first-grade teacher. Earlier this week, she was named February's Golden Apple Award winner during a surprise presentation at her school.

"I do love this so much. I put my heart in this every single day when I come to work. These babies are my life," she said of teaching. "I have always felt that this was God's calling for me. This last year has really proven that to me because I have had some amazing children to come through this classroom."

Satcher is honored to be recognized as this month's Golden Apple winner, especially since she will be retiring from the profession at the end of the school year.

"I've always seen other teachers get the award, and I have always been very excited for them especially for the teachers here at Enterprise. They are my colleagues and I know they are very deserving of the award," she said. "I just never dreamed that I would ever get it, but I am very blessed and honored."

Satcher graduated from Enterprise High School in 1978. She started working and married her husband of 38 years, Tony Satcher. They have two daughters, Martina Satcher, 41, of Enterprise and Talena Satcher, 23, of Hattiesburg.

She was out of high school for a little over a decade before she decided to go to college.

"I have a special needs child and she was having difficulties in school and I was always having to get off my job to come to the school to check on her," Satcher recalled.

One day, her mother confronted Satcher and posed a solution.

"My mother told me, ‘Why don't you just see about getting a job at the school?'" She said, ‘Better yet, why don't you just go back to school and get your degree in teaching?" After my mom said that with such passion, I pursued a degree in education," Satcher said.

She took a job working full time at Enterprise Elementary, first in the cafeteria and then as a teacher's assistant.

At the same time, she enrolled in classes at Meridian Community College beginning in 1990. She graduated with her associate's degree in December 1995 and then enrolled at Mississippi State University-Meridian. She graduated from MSU-Meridian three years later with her bachelor's degree in elementary education.

She began teaching first grade at Enterprise Elementary.

"And I have been here ever since," she laughed.

Satcher credited some very positive people in her life at the time for encouraging and motivating her through the eight-year journey to become a classroom teacher.

"I had some very positive people in my life at that time who just kept telling me you can do this," she said. "So I started and I did not look back."

During her three decades at Enterprise, she has made some dear colleagues among the teaching staff, friends she will miss next school year.

"Being with my colleagues, seeing them every day. I am going to really miss that because we always have such a special bond," she said.

"Some of us don't get to see each other over the summer, so from the last day that we leave until the first day of the new school year, sometimes that is the first time seeing each other and it is just like kids opening their presents at Christmas," she added.

They will miss her, too, said fellow first-grade teacher Audrey Shirley.

"To know Mrs. Satcher is to love her. She is not only a respected leader in our school district but also in the Enterprise community," Shirley said. "She is a Godly woman who is kind, warm and welcoming to all. Her passion and intuition are awe inspiring. She is tough, but fair. She sees the ability and capacity in every single student who crosses her path."

Besides teaching in the classroom, Satcher has driven a school bus for Enterprise 25 of her 32 years at the school. She said this role lets her see the students in a whole different environment than being in the classroom.

"Sometimes I think people don't understand where a lot of kids come from, and as a bus driver I get to see a lot of things that other people don't get to see," she said.

By getting to know the students and their home life better, she feels it has made her more empathetic to some of them.

"Everyone is not blessed in so many ways and I think this opens up a whole new world for me to see you don't judge a book by its cover," she said. "Sometimes you have to look deep into what is going on and think about the situation, and that has really helped me as a bus driver.

"I feel like God placed me there because I do love to help people, and most of the time when I see a need I help," she added.

Once she is retired, Satcher plans to trade her dry-erase markers for a fishing pole.

"He has always wanted me to go fishing with him," Satcher said of her husband, Tony. "I don't like fishing but I promised him when I retired from teaching that the first thing we are going to do is we are going to go fishing. So I am going to spend some time with him on some of his fishing trips."