Sneed receives OHS Teacher of the Year award

Caroline Crews, Features Editor

Being a teacher was not Lindsey Sneed’s original plan. After attending Itawamba Community College and then Ole Miss, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus in marketing. However, she soon encountered a problem; she had graduated during a recession.

“I had to take jobs that weren’t in marketing and I kind of ended up in a place where I wasn’t happy with the opportunities that I had,” Sneed said. “I stopped to think about what I really like doing. I had been a ballroom dance instructor when I was in college, and I was always a math tutor when I was in high school and I thought, ‘Maybe I should try this.’”

She did an alternate route degree program at Mississippi State which led to a masters degree in the art of secondary teaching with a focus in mathematics.

“I like that in math there’s a right answer and there’s a wrong answer but there’s different approaches to getting there,” Sneed said. “I like that there’s some certainty in math. It makes me feel comfortable.”

Now, after five years of teaching math, four of which were at Oxford High School, Sneed has received the 2016-2017 OHS Teacher of the Year award.

Each year, teachers nominate who they think should receive the award and there is often a run-off vote after the nominations. This year, however, there was no need for a second vote because Sneed received so many nominations.

“She’s always looking to find different instructional practices, to find different motivational tactics,” OHS Principal Bradley Roberson said. “She’s talking to her colleagues, trying to find ways to reach all of her kids and I think that passion is seen by her colleagues.”

This year Sneed teaches algebra to classes of majority ninth graders, and she has taught both geometry and algebra in the past.

“I like convincing people who think that they’re not math people that they are math people, because it’s become way too common for people to walk into a classroom and say, ‘I’ve just never been good at math’ or “I’m just not a math person,” but nobody would ever walk in and say ‘I just don’t read. I’m illiterate,’” Sneed said. “It’s something that is stigmatized and they think math is just too hard, but I want everyone to see that math is doable, approachable, and it is all based on logic and reasoning and problem solving.”

According to Sneed, her teaching style is a little bit different each day, and she tries to gear her classes toward each student’s individual learning style.

“I’m really big on having my kids write,” she said. “I think writing and putting pen to paper is part of the learning process, not just hearing it. If we hear it, see it, say it, do it, then we hit all of the different learning styles, so in each of my lessons that’s my goal.”

In addition, she often integrates hands-on and project-based activities into her teaching. For example, last semester her class engaged in a project called the hiker problem, in which her students used their algebra skills to locate a hiker in the woods. Community members from Lafayette County Search and Rescue and students from OHS JROTC visited the class to discuss rescues and land navigation.

“It was really nice to have a full integration of mathematics and problem-solving and community,” Sneed said.

Roberson has sat in on her classes before and feels that she creates a very personalized learning community for her students.

“It’s not just ‘sit and get’ where the teacher is at the front of the class and the students are expected just to sit there and get it,” Roberson said. “It’s a very personal experience in her classroom trying to meet the needs of all of her kids. In classes students are on different levels a lot of the times and its important that we personalize that experience as much as we can.”

Freshman Mary Cook described Sneed as a very flexible teacher, who has encouraged her to come to her classroom before school to receive extra help.

“With every word problem or any equation, she makes sure to plug it into a real life situation,” Cook said, “which really helps everyone in the class understand it more because we can all relate to it better and that always helps.”

Sneed noted that she tries to live and teach by the motto “Be who you needed when you were younger.”

“I needed somebody who was awkward and weird and funny and made me comfortable being awkward and weird and funny,” Sneed said. “I try and be a little loud and a little talkative and a little silly so that my kids can have a place where they feel safe to open up and be themselves.”