Pascagoula-Gautier teacher, principal recognized as best in state

Payton, Smith

An administrator and a teacher — both from the Pascagoula-Gautier School District — have been selected as the top in their fields in the state.

The Mississippi Department of Education today announced the 2023 Mississippi Administrator of the Year is Dr. Caterria Payton, principal at Pascagoula High School and the Mississippi Teacher of the Year is Louise Smith of Gautier Middle School, who also is the middle school’s band director.

The winners were revealed at a program in Jackson. Also recognized was the 2023 Mississippi Parent of the Year Kimberly Walker Nailor, a mother of two students in the Vicksburg Warren School District.

“Congratulations to all winners and finalists of this year’s awards,” said Mike Kent, interim state superintendent of education. “These educators have made impacts in their communities and deserve accolades for demonstrating quality leadership and helping students achieve greater outcomes.”

The annual Mississippi Administrator of the Year program honors an administrator who demonstrates superior ability to inspire teachers, to employ exemplary leadership practices and to participate as an active member of the community. The recipient receives a $5,000 stipend and shares expertise through various presentations and activities for the improvement of education in the state.

The annual Mississippi Teacher of the Year program recognizes exemplary teachers in the state who inspire students, demonstrate leadership both inside and outside the classroom and serve as active members of the community. The award recipient also receives a $5,000 stipend and will share expertise through various presentations and activities. Smith will represent Mississippi in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

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