Columbia honors Kiker as ‘Teacher of the Year’

MADISON – In Jamie Kiker’s classroom at Columbia Elementary School, students can count on consistency and structure, along with a venue for creativity and the joy of laughter. Kiker is Columbia’s “Teacher of the Year.”

“Teaching is genuinely a huge passion of mine. I adore this work, especially because of the community I teach with,” Kiker said.

She has worked 15 years in education. Her career began in 2008, teaching fifth-grade math and science at Oak Grove Upper Elementary School in Hattiesburg, Miss. for three years.

Kiker then moved to Madison and since has been teaching math and science to third- and fourth-graders at Columbia Elementary School.

In 2012, Kiker established Columbia’s first Math Club. “In my years of sponsoring this club, I enjoyed coaching and traveling with these students,” Kiker said. For seven years, she has collaborated with her team teacher, Alyson Durrett.

“My newest endeavor and privilege at Columbia have been the role of Columbia’s Sustained Tutoring Director for the after-school tutoring program,” Kiker said. “I’m currently spending my summer as a teacher at the EL camp.” (“EL” represents “English Learners,” who are students working for English proficiency).

“My ultimate goal each year is to create a safe environment of acceptance and trust, with a happy medium of high expectations and fun,” Kiker said.

“Any time students (can) move, speak and repeat, they’re more likely to retain the information presented to them. Creating songs, dances, silly stories and movement within my lessons helps my students to engage fully in lessons and retain content,” Kiker said.

“As a class family, we celebrate everyone’s talents, help each other find self-confidence, encourage others and bring out the best in one another,” she said.

In afternoon tutoring, Kiker interacted with students outside her classroom and grade level. “These students were struggling with grade-level content and were lacking self-confidence. I worked hard to build positive relationships with each individual student, giving them a sense of belonging and security to grow each session,” she said.

“These interactions fostered collaborative relationships and an overall sense of community within our school . . . building not only their confidence and self-esteem but their recognition that they are genuinely loved beyond their classrooms,” Kiker said.

Kiker grew up in Collins, Miss. and received an associate’s degree from Jones College, where she performed with their show choir, Jones on Stage. At the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Kiker completed a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She later attended the University of West Alabama and received a master’s degree in elementary education.

“I have two daughters, Millie and Mary-Wells, who are eight and five years old. I am very excited that we’ll all be at Columbia together this school year. Millie will be in third grade, and Mary-Wells in kindergarten,” Kiker said.

“Growing up, my brother and I were very active in the performing arts, especially community theater and show choir,” Kiker said. “I am able to utilize those skills and talents within my classroom today by creating songs, dances, silly stories and movement to better engage my students in my lessons.”

Away from school, she enjoys the outdoors — traveling, camping, hiking and kayaking. Kiker also likes her monthly supper club with close friends.

“I most enjoy being a mom to my daughters, spending time making memories with them and sharing time with my family,” Kiker said.

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