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MDE celebrates 2021 Administrator & Teacher of the Year

The Mississippi Department of Education has announced its 2021 Administrator & Teacher of the Year. 

In a virtual ceremony Thursday, DeLisle Elementary Principal Mandy Lacy was celebrated as the Administrator of the Year and the Teacher of the Year was awarded to Leslie Tally, a 2nd grade English Language Arts teacher at Lawhon Elementary in Tupelo.

Lacy, who has spent her 19-year career at DeLisle Elementary in the Pass Christian School District, believes that creating an environment conducive for learning is crucial as students must feel valued and safe to learn.

“The amount of success that a student can achieve is limitless when provided with high-quality, standards-based instruction from an effective educator who truly desires to inspire and motivate children,” she said.

Tally was inspired to become a teacher by her father, a 47-year educator. She believes that only by first setting an example as a learner herself, will she enable each student to view his or her education, not as a succession of skills, standards or grade levels, but as a lifelong pursuit of learning.

“Educators must consistently reflect upon and revise their instruction. The benefits of such modification are two-fold: students flourish in an environment that is responsive to their needs and teachers grow professionally,” Tally said.

Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education, said the winners are to be commended for their dedication to the profession, and they serve as ambassadors for Mississippi’s teachers and administrators.

“Educators’ service to students is worthy of celebration every year, but especially for this school year. I admire their abilities to navigate the changes of the 2020-21 school year and their commitment to do the best they could for students in a challenging time both professionally and personally,” Wright said.

Both recipients receive a $5,000 stipend and will share their expertise through various presentations and activities across the state. Tally will represent Mississippi in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

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