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Meridian teacher receives state recognition from Wal-Mart, Miss America Organization

By By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
Aug. 3, 2001
Meridian High School teacher Shirley Burton can add another accomplishment to her long list of achievements: the Wal-Mart and Sam's Club State Teacher of the Year.
Burton, an economics teacher and Meridian High Teacher of the Year for 2000-2001, was one of 3,021 local Teacher of the Year recipients chosen nationwide earlier this year.
Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and the Miss America organization joined together to recognize and reward teachers who have distinguished themselves as leaders and mentors.
Residents nominated teachers through their local Wal-Mart stores, company spokesman Rob Phillips said. Each recipient could apply for state Teacher of the Year recognition, with the winner chosen by a panel of education experts selected by the state Miss America Organization.
As state teacher of the year, Meridian High School will receive $2,500 from Wal-Mart for programs. The school will receive another $500 because Burton was chosen as the local state teacher nominee.
A national panel of educators will review the 50 state winners; one will be recognized as national Teacher of the Year this fall during the Miss America Pageant. The national winner will receive an additional $5,000 for his or her school.
Burton, a teacher for 28 years, is entering her 15th year at MHS. Burton and her husband, Carl, live in Toomsuba. He teaches at Northeast High School, where Shirley was a 1968 graduate when it was known as Middleton High.
Teacher of the Year candidates submitted essays about their personal qualities, their approach to teaching and their contributions to their school district.
Burton said she promotes learning through student involvement.
Burton said the lesson she teaches on "understanding credit" is by far the most important one in her class because bad credit can destroy a person's ability to have a happy life.
Beyond her teaching duties, Burton serves as chair of the Meridian School District's improvement plan, known as Onward To Excellence and is chair of the state accreditation organization, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at sgillespie@themeridianstar.com.