For Immediate Release: April 28, 2023
MDE announces 2023 Mississippi Administrator of the Year, Teacher of the Year
JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education today announced the 2023 Mississippi Administrator of the Year (MAOY) is Dr. Caterria Payton, principal at Pascagoula High School in the Pascagoula-Gautier School District (PGSD), and the Mississippi Teacher of the Year (MTOY) is Louise Smith of Gautier Middle School also in the PGSD.
The winners were announced at a program today led by MDE’s Office of Teaching and Leading at the Jackson Convention Complex. Interim State Superintendent of Education Mike Kent attended today’s program, which also recognized the 2023 Mississippi Parent of the Year Kimberly Walker Nailor, a mother of two students in the Vicksburg Warren School District.
“Congratulations to all winners and finalists of this year’s awards,” said Mike Kent, interim state superintendent of education. “These educators have made impacts in their communities and deserve accolades for demonstrating quality leadership and helping students achieve greater outcomes.”
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. Smith will represent Mississippi in the National Teacher of the Year competition.
In describing her personal philosophy, Payton stated, “It is our job as administrators to be champions for our teachers by giving to them what we expect them to give our students. When teachers feel that they are seen, heard and valued, they are more emotionally sound and confident and are more likely to be effective champions for all students.”
In describing her personal philosophy, Smith, who teaches 7th-8th grade instrumental music education, stated, “The complex work of education is the great equalizer for our society, and teachers are the people who stand in the gap as bridges for students and their future.”
Should either the 2023 Administrator or Teacher of the Year be unable to fulfill their duties, an alternate candidate has been selected for each role. The alternate for 2023 Administrator of the Year is Serenity Luckett of Highland Elementary School in the Madison County School District, and the alternate for 2023 Teacher of the Year is Lynsey McQueen of Dawson Elementary School in Jackson Public Schools.
Find all MDE news releases at mdek12.org/news.