Contact: Lisa Sollie
MERIDIAN, Miss.—Elizabeth Bennett of Meridian is Mississippi State University-Meridian’s Outstanding Graduate Student for the Division of Education for Spring 2021 semester. Bennett, who earned a Master of Arts in Teaching Secondary Education degree, is a fifth-grade inclusion teacher at Northeast Lauderdale Middle school.
After graduating from Northeast Highschool in 2013, Bennett headed to East Mississippi Community College – Scooba campus to play softball, and then transferred to MSU-Meridian to earn a degree in accounting.
While at EMCC she began a paid internship at a local public accounting firm and continued working there for a few years after she earned her undergraduate degree. She then transitioned to private accounting and enrolled in graduate classes at the Meridian campus.
“I think in the back of my mind I always had a desire to be a teacher and even a coach someday,” Bennett said, “but I didn’t follow through. And even though I love accounting – I thought I could make a bigger difference in the classroom.”
Although her original plan was to pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching Community College Education degree, she quickly switched to the MAT-S alternate route program.
“I really started thinking about all of the great and influential teachers I had in my life,” especially at the middle and high school level,” she noted, “and I wanted the opportunity to make the same impact on the kids in my classroom as my teachers did on me.”
It was quite an adjustment for Bennett to be a first-year educator during a pandemic but being an inclusion teacher helped.
“I didn’t have a lot of prior teaching experience before I started at the middle school,” she said, “but as an inclusion teacher I follow my students around to their classrooms and I was exposed to not only different subject areas, but also a variety of teaching styles and how students respond to each – and that was really good for me.”
Bennett, who is expecting her second child in August, will transition to Northeast High school this fall as an inclusion teacher and assistant softball coach.
“Changing careers like I did at this particular point in my life was a good decision for our family,” she noted, “I couldn’t be happier.”