A local outstanding educator award gave a Sebastopol native an incentive to attend a graduate class at Mississippi State University in Meridian. Two years later, she is being recognized as the MSU-Meridian 2021 Fall Outstanding Graduate Student in the Division of Education.
When Anne Fisackerly, a senior English teacher at Philadelphia High School, won the Golden Apple Award in October 2019 through a local program recognizing outstanding educators in east Mississippi and west Alabama, she received a scholarship for a graduate class at MSU-Meridian, in addition to cash and other prizes.
“I had no intention of going back to school to earn another degree — I was just following the advice of my mentors who encouraged me to always stay relevant,” she said. “But after that first class, I was hooked. The camaraderie of the cohort, the challenging professors and the growth-oriented curriculum all combined to create a learning experience that demanded excellence.”
After graduating from Mississippi State with a degree in business administration in the mid-1980s, she thought she was going to work as an accountant. Over time, she discovered her true calling and earned a master’s degree in English education from the University of Illinois Chicago. Fisackerly has been teaching for 12 years.
“I love what I do. I feel energized by my students, and I respect them,” she said. “That is important for teaching. You certainly need to know an enormous amount about your subject area, but if you don’t like young people … you really shouldn’t be teaching because you are teaching an individual — not your subject area. You need to know the students, support them and show up for their life.”
After completing her education specialist degree in teacher leadership in August, Fisackerly hopes to impact both teachers and students at Philadelphia High School.
“I never thought of myself as a teacher leader before, but I discovered through the degree program that mentoring and providing training for other teachers are powerful ways to influence student growth — and that’s a win-win for not only my fellow educators but ultimately the students themselves,” she said.
Fisackerly, a professed outdoor enthusiast, likes to travel in her spare time. One of her favorite destinations is Costa Rica, where she has hiked the rain and cloud forests. She also enjoys living on her farm in her 130-year-old dog trot farmhouse, which she refers to as a “work in progress.”
MSU-Meridian primarily serves east Mississippi and west Alabama. Learn more at www.meridian.msstate.edu. MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.