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LHS math teacher an award finalist

A Lafayette High School math teacher is celebrating her nomination as one of six 2014-2015 finalists for one of the highest honors a math teacher can achieve.

Virginia “Virge” Cornelius celebrated being one step closer to the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching Program with cake and support last week.

Mississippi Department of Education officials, LHS Principal Glenn Kitchens and other supportive co-workers and family attended the reception Wednesday evening at the LHS library.

Cornelius said part of her job as a teacher is to ensure there are more students who grow up with a love of math, learning and who hopefully grow up to be teachers.

“We need more math teachers,” Cornelius said.

Also in attendance at the ceremony were two former students who are currently teachers, which goes to show Cornelius’s dedication to fostering more teachers is more than just words.

MDE Executive Director of Professional Development Trecina Green praised Cornelius’ teaching methods, hard work and dedication to her students.

“These are the hallmarks of her students,” Green said.

Although this is the second time Cornelius has been nominated, this is the first time she has become a finalist. However, both processes of applying each year have caused her to grow as an educator.

The application process required her to film herself teaching a lesson. Additionally, she also began blogging about her experiences. Cornelius has been praised as a teacher, but she said she still feels “average.”

“It’s really about the small day-to-day stuff. It’s not about the big celebration,” Cornelius said. “It’s a good exercise to do this kind of huge application because it makes you reflect back on everything that you have done over the course of your career.”

Through reflection, Cornelius said she has tried to incorporate more independent learning. She has tried to focus learning around each student discovering the process.

Cornelius does not stop teaching when summer arrives. She travels to New Hampshire and teaches students from all around the nation at a summer camp called Wolfeboro.

The recipient of the award will be announced later this year at an unspecified date, but Cornelius hopes to know by the end of May. However, it could be as late as the fall before a final decision is announced.