Mississippi Power Education Foundation honors six outstanding teachers

GULFPORT, MS - April 28, 2008 – Mississippi Power recognizes six top performing educators in its service territory, Southeast Mississippi, with the prestigious Alan R. Barton Excellence in Teaching Award. The highly-coveted award has been presented to a select group of Southeast Mississippi educators in Mississippi Power’s 23-county service area since it was established in 1990.

Recipients of the Alan R. Barton Excellence in Teaching Award receive a personal check for $3,000 and a plaque to showcase in their classroom. Additional awards of $3,000 can be used for professional development or classroom supplies and equipment at their respective schools. A formal ceremony and dinner will be held for the winners and their families in mid-April.

“Historically, the foundation has selected three honorees, but with so many exceptional educators working hard to strengthen the future of our students, the board elected to begin honoring six teachers,” said Becky Montgomery, executive director, Mississippi Power Education Foundation. “We had an impressive pool to choose from. We wish we could have recognized them all.”

This year’s recipients, selected from 50 nominees, are Donna Davis of Southeast Elementary School, LaDonna Tullos of Forest Elementary School, Susan Burns of Roseland Park Elementary School, Ashley Phillips of Wayne County High School, Simone Fairley of Bayou View Middle School and Laurie Blalock of Ocean Springs Alternative Education Center.

Davis teaches kindergarten and uses innovative and current teaching techniques to meet the needs of every learner in her classroom. She earned a bachelor’s in education from Mississippi State University and is a National Board Certified Teacher. She was recently recognized by her peers as Teacher of the Year and received the Good Apple Excellent Teaching Award from her principal.

Tullos, a kindergarten teacher certified to teach up to twelfth grade, holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and earned her master’s degree in special education from the University of Southern Mississippi. She provides a loving, structured learning environment and believes in positive reinforcement and one on one feedback to motivate her students. Tullos was awarded the Forest Municipal School District Teacher of the Year based on leadership and her outstanding community involvement.

Burns is a third grade teacher who is dedicated to providing a creative learning environment promoting excellence and action. She earned her bachelor’s degree in French from Tulane University and her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Northwestern University. Nominated by her peers and students for the Barton Award, Burns is a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and Roseland Park Elementary Teacher of the Year.

Phillips teaches the ninth grade and lends his personal time to make sure his students grasp ninth grade algebra. He passes his excitement for mathematics on to his students so that they get interested in math. He earned his bachelor’s in mathematics from the University of Southern Mississippi and has won numerous corporate awards for his enthusiasm, commitment and contribution to the profession.

Blalock, a 7th-12th grade teacher referred to by her peers as “awesome” and “amazing,” instills confidence in her students to learn and never quit. She takes it upon herself to make her classes exciting and engaging the interest of her students. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi in political science, Blalock attended Bowie State University and earned her master’s degree in education and will receive a master’s degree in school counseling from William Carey later this year.

Fairley is a seventh grade career discovery teacher and uses creative techniques to demonstrate to her students the many opportunities available to them when they enter the “real world.” A National Board Certified Teacher, Fairley is a team leader in her school and not only motivates her students, but her peers, also. She holds a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Southern Mississippi and a master’s degree in secondary education from William Carey.

Barton, for whom the award is named, was president of Mississippi Power from 1980-1989. The award was established in 1990 to commemorate his dedication and contributions to the field of education. Since 1984, when Barton founded the Mississippi Power Education Foundation, the company has supported excellence in education throughout its service area by awarding more than $3.8 million in grants and awards to teachers, schools, school systems and educational projects.


Media Contact:  Cindy Duvall, 228.865.5543 or 1.800.821.6383, cwduvall@southernco.com