Eighth-grade science teacher Rachael McKinney uses innovative, inquiry-based teaching methods to reach all of her students at Brandon Middle School in Brandon. Each year her students participate in a program called "King of the Hill," in which they construct cars out of limited materials and race them against their classmates' cars in a schoolwide competition. McKinney coordinates the school's annual science fair, and many of her students go on to perform well in science fairs at the regional and state levels. Her students also score consistently well on state-mandated tests, and she has inspired many former students to pursue careers in science-related careers or in teaching. Chair of the school's seventh- and eighth-grade science department, McKinney has worked on writing and revising the science curriculum for both grade levels, served as a mentor for new teachers and supervised several student teachers. She serves on an in-house committee that identifies at-risk students and helps develop intervention measures. She has presented her innovative strategies at the Mississippi Science Teacher Association Conference and teaches biology at Hinds Community College.
1997 Mississippi State University, B.S.