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MDE Announces the 2021 Mississippi Teacher, Administrator of the Year


For Immediate Release: April 29, 2021

JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) and the Office of Teaching and Leading announced today in a virtual ceremony that Mandy Lacy, principal of DeLisle Elementary in the Pass Christian School District, has been selected as the 2021 Mississippi Administrator of the Year (MAOY), and Leslie Tally, 2nd grade English Language Arts teacher at Lawhon Elementary in the Tupelo School District, has been selected as the 2021 Mississippi Teacher of the Year (MTOY).

Lacy, who has spent her 19-year career at DeLisle Elementary, 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,” she said.

The annual Mississippi Administrator of the Year program honors an administrator who demonstrates superior ability to inspire teachers, to employ exemplary leadership practices and to participate as an active member of the community. The recipient receives a $5,000 stipend and shares expertise through various presentations and activities for the improvement of education in the state.

The annual Mississippi Teacher of the Year program recognizes exemplary teachers in the state who inspire students, demonstrate leadership both inside and outside the classroom and serve as active members of the community. The award recipient also receives a $5,000 stipend and will share expertise through various presentations and activities. Tally will represent Mississippi in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

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,” she said.

Weeks before today’s announcement, each school district selected a District Teacher of the Year and District Administrator of the Year. Following an intensive selection process, four congressional district winners were chosen from district award recipients. Finally, one teacher earned the MTOY recognition and one administrator earned the MAOY recognition following an interview with finalists.

Should either the 2021 Administrator or Teacher of the Year be unable to fulfill their duties, an alternate candidate has been selected for each role. Mark Enis, principal of Tupelo Middle School in the Tupelo School District is the 2021 Alternate Administrator of the Year, and Mason Smith at Lumberton High School in the Lamar County School District is the 2021 Alternate Teacher of the Year.


Media Contact: 

Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications

Jean Cook, APR
Director of Public Relations