Character, compassion and drive are just a few of the glowing words that colleagues and co-workers use to describe Latoya Fortenberry, who teaches second grade at Jackson Elementary in Pascagoula, MS. A tireless worker for students, she is willing to challenge the status quo in favor of an effective learning environment.
An instructor at a high-needs school with a diverse population, Fortenberry’s classroom received the highest science scores in the 2008–2009 school year for the Pascagoula School District. Fifth-grade language arts and math scores both jumped 11 percent in one year. Her students perform better in math than the overall school average and are more competent in advanced content areas, such as algebra and geometry. Her class outperforms the school average in language arts as well.
Utilizing hands-on learning, flash cards and small group instruction, Fortenberry frequently goes beyond the textbook to help make concepts click. A mentor to first-year teachers, she holds teachers, parents, administrators and students accountable for education. And when grateful former students come back to see her, they also help teach Fortenberry’s current classes. A leader in the school and the district, she is Teacher Support Team chair, School Data Team leader, a faculty advisory representative, and a representative on the second-grade Curriculum Council.