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Today, the Ocean Springs Education Foundation presented the Jan and Pieper Niolen Teacher of the Year award.
Students and staff filled the Ocean Springs Middle School auditorium for what they thought would be a winter pep rally. A few minutes after it started, everyone was surprised to hear the Jan and Pieper Niolen Teacher of the Year being announced. Margaret Brune and Clare Warren are two of the students who nominated the winning teacher for the award. “She’s really passionate and she stands out because she tries to teach in different ways so that it’ll feel fun. And not like the same boring thing.” “And she cares about people. If you have problems she will help you with it, inside or outside the school. She’s just like a second mom to just about everybody.”
This award goes further than just recognizing a special teacher. It also serves as an honor to Jan and Pieper Niolen, a mother and daughter of Ocean Springs who died six years ago. Ocean Springs Education Foundation President Leslie Kelley said, “The Jan and Pieper Award, teacher of the year award, was a vision of a previous board member whose daughter came home with a great grade and it came to her. We need to honor our teachers from a child’s view.”
After their death, the Ocean Springs Education Foundation honored the mother-daughter duo by bringing Jan’s vision to life: a teacher of the year award that wouldn’t be chosen by colleagues, but through student nominations. Teacher Jacie Meyers said, “I am overwhelmed. I was not expecting that at all. I feel very honored. I wasn’t fortunate enough to meet Jan or Pieper, but I really hope I can honor them by doing great in my classroom and changing lives every day.”


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