Columbus Municipal Schools crowned its Teacher of the Year Thursday via sneak attack.
CMSD Superintendent Dr. Del Phillips, Mayor Robert Smith, school board member Glenn Lautzenhiser and Columbus High School Principal Craig Shannon dropped in on Cindy Ming”s third period U.S. History class unannounced to inform her she had been selected as the district”s top teacher.
“I am in shock!” Ming exclaimed moments after getting the news. Moments earlier she was jumping up and down, unable to contain her excitement, as she left her husband, Allen, a voicemail to give him the news.
Once she regained her cool, Ming shared the philosophy she uses to guide her teaching.
“I work hard every day, as well as every other teacher at Columbus High School. We”re here every day working to get these kids prepared not only for test scores, but for life,” she said.
Ming joked for a moment that she couldn”t possibly work any harder, but she acknowledged the award set a new personal standard for excellence.
“This is a standard I have to maintain. To make sure when these students leave my class that they have something good to say and they”ve learned something. I have them for 48 minutes a day and they”re my responsibility. If I shortchange their experience in my class, I”m not only doing them a disservice, but myself as well.”
As it turns out, the kids aren”t the only ones with something good to say.
“I wouldn”t be surprised if she has more than one District Teacher of the Year award before her career is over,” said Phillips of Ming. “She brings history to life and students love coming to her class.”
“She has distinguished herself at various levels,” said Lautzenhiser. “This is not the only award she has won in her career.”
Lautzenhiser is right. Ming started her trophy collection by winning Student Teacher of the Year for the district while a student at Mississippi University for Women, and took Teacher of the Year honors at Lee Middle School in 2002.
Smith discovered the quality of Ming”s work after one of his children took her class in high school.
“She”s an outstanding teacher. I”m here on behalf of the city to just encourage her to keep up the good work. And I know she will,” he said.
Shannon says one of Ming”s strongest qualities is analyzing the test scores of her incoming students and tailoring her instruction to meet their needs.
“At the beginning of the year we always get test scores for the tenth graders coming in,” explains Ming. “We look at the test scores and that helps me to adjust to know, do I need to go with more remediation? Do we need to create more opportunities for them to learn the material?”
One of Ming”s extra learning opportunities is her Lunch Bunch tutoring sessions.
In a room attached to the cafeteria, students who can”t stay after school because they ride the bus gather with their lunches to get extra instruction.
“The kids love it. We go through whatever”s going to be on the test the next day so they”ll have it fresh on their minds,” says Ming.
Her students credit Ming with finding multiple innovative ways to keep information fresh.
“She brings the fun out of it. With different subjects she”ll bring different activities,” said junior Tre Baity. “She”ll even design war ships. She”s really creative. The way she explains it, it”s like you”re really there.”
Baity says he wasn”t a fan of history before taking Ming”s class.
Shandrika Roland, also a junior, looks forward to third period in Ming”s class.
“If I”m in a bad mood through first or second period, she”ll perk me up. She”s just an exciting teacher to be around,” said Roland. “She breaks down all the material she does. She won”t just throw it on you and let you not understand it.”
Ming is a 10-year veteran of CMSD. She has taught at Lee Middle School and CHS. She and her husband have two children: Micah, 5; and Hanna Beth, 1.
Teacher of the Year winners
2010 Teacher of the Year winners in the Columbus district, by school:
· Columbus High School: Cindy Ming
· McKellar Technology Center: Patty Thrash
· Lee Middle School: Patricia Cochran
· Hunt Intermediate School: Jennifer Bell
· Cook Elementary Fine Arts Magnet School: Olivia Ulbrich
· Fairview Aerospace and Science Magnet School: Alika Logan
· Franklin Elementary Medical Sciences and Wellness Magnet School: Elaine Humphries
· Sale Elementary International Studies Magnet School: Mary Anna Nelson
· Stokes Beard Elementary Technology and Communication Magnet School: Ophelia Summerville
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.
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