PMS teacher never considered another profession

By NIKKI SMITH,

Most teachers say that they knew they wanted to be a teacher from a young age. Linda Drinkwine, Petal Middle School’s 2017 Teacher of the Year, said teaching is the only profession she ever considered.

“As a child, I spent many hours teaching my dolls how to read and write,” she said. “As a student, I admired all my teachers and wanted to teach like them. As a college student, I never considered getting a degree in anything besides education.”

The Stringer native has taught seventh-grade English Language Arts in the Petal School District for one year. She said being recognized as a Teacher of the Year is a big deal to her because she has spent just one year teaching for Petal. She was nominated by her peers for this honor.

“This honor means so much to me because I have only taught one year in the Petal School District,” Drinkwine said. “It has been an experience that has forever changed me as an educator. It has required me to leave my comfort zone and push myself daily to be a better teacher.”

She said the experience has taught her to do the same for her students.

“I have learned how to continually push students past their comfort zones in order to experience growth,” she said. “I have experienced a multitude of emotions while on this journey, but at the end of each day, I am celebrating the success of the students. Without them and their hard work and determination, I would not be receiving this honor.”

Drinkwine is motivated by her former students just as much as those currently in her classroom.

“One of the best things about teaching is having former students who are in high school and college recall texts, discussions and moments from middle school ELA class,” she said. “It is a reminder and motivation to know that I am making an impact and difference in their lives while teaching them skills that go beyond the classroom.”

Her biggest challenge as a middle school ELA teacher is making the lessons and standards have importance to the students, especially in this tech-driven world. 

“It requires teachers to stay up to date on technology and find new ways to keep the students engaged and make learning meaningful to them,” Drinkwine said. “I hope to impact my students by instilling in them a love for reading and writing while helping them become lifelong learners.”

With half the year already completed, Drinkwine looks to finish strong.

“For the rest of the school year, I want to continue to empower and inspire my students to leave their comfort zones and continue to grow as students, readers, writers and lifelong learners,” she said. “I also want to continue to play my part in seeing that Petal School District and Petal Middle School maintain an A status.”

Drinkwine chose to make the move to Petal School District after working for a neighboring district for 15 years.

“I wanted to be part of the school district because I live and my kids attend school and daycare in Petal,” she said. “I also wanted to take part in the Professional Learning Communities that are a cornerstone of the district.”

Drinkwine earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Elementary Education at William Carey University.