Tiffani Pollard was nominated by her former student, Erin Bianchini.
"I have disliked school for as long as I can remember, but this very special teacher made each day worthwhile," explains Bianchini. "I met Mrs. Pollard last school year, during my senior year of high school. Right off the jump, she made her classroom feel like a home. She was universally known as the school mom and called everyone her babies. Many students, including myself, felt as if we had known her our whole lives after only a brief time with her. She honestly reminds me of my own mom. She is stern and will call anything out as what it is, yet she is caring and genuine in her and her students' feelings."
Multiple students from many different graduating classes have gone to Mrs. Pollard with their troubles, some even after graduating. She has even left the classroom to speak with students one-on-one to ensure her students are mentally and physically well. Speaking of her classroom, she has a very effective way of teaching. There is absolutely no busy work in her class. Everything you do in her class gets put in the grade book, so students aren't wasting their time and energy on work that won't be looked at. It also gives students more "wiggle room," so they can pull up their grades more easily than in classes with more busy work.
"This is important to students because it shows that she has our best interest in mind and is trying to help each of us," said Bianchini. "This isn't the only benefit of her teaching method, though. She also gives multiple hands-on, fun projects throughout the year and provides multiple options for her students to complete their work."
"Mrs. Pollard also organizes and conducts many school festivities and programs," said Bianchini. "Last year, when I was in school, she organized and conducted a school event for juniors and seniors. The event was called Prom Promise Program. Mrs. Pollard gave each of her students a role and duty, and my job was make-up. The Prom Promise Program was a mock car crash to remind kids to stay safe and make good choices during the weekend of prom. The mock crash scene consisted of eight students who were 'killed' by distracted driving and a lone survivor that was the distracted driver. Mrs. Pollard had involved the police, firefighters, ambulances, the aeromedical evacuation crew, the funeral home, WLOX News, FOX news, and a few of the students' parents."
Everyone watched the process each of these forces went through in response to a car crash. A mock funeral was held for each student in the crash to ensure their peers understood the message being portrayed. Before leaving the funeral scene, students signed a sign stating they would make good choices and return to school on Monday.
"Personally, I felt like this program was a brilliant way to make kids understand the importance and impact of staying safe," said Bianchini. "Another way she made an impact was on our final exam for the year. It was to make a scrapbook of 10 essays about things from our personal and/or school lives. Since we felt so connected to Mrs. Pollard, most of us chose more personal topics. We wrote about things we had never told anyone before, from growing up in a bad environment to being depressed. It's truly mind-blowing to see how comfortable students are with Mrs. Pollard," said the student
With such a reputation, her students aren't the only ones who recognize Mrs. Pollard for all she does. She was the first teacher on the coast to receive the University of Mississippi's School of Education Practitioner of Distinction Award. Only 20 Ole Miss School of Education alumni from across the country have been bestowed with this highly coveted honor.
"Having this award is everything to me," said Pollard. "Let me tell you what it means to me, that one of my former students is a student at the School of Education at Ole Miss, and he presented me with the award. I have never achieved or gained anything from something that is countrywide, and for me to be a practitioner of a nationwide distinction means the absolute world."
Mrs. Pollard has also won many other awards for her work as a teacher and is carrying on to become an English professor at Ole Miss.
"Mrs. Pollard, if you see this, I thank you for being such a big impact in my life. I wish you the best in going to teach at Ole Miss," said Bianchini.