Birdette's Black and White World
A strict moral code and ultra-ambitious work ethic made her one of the top teachers in America. But her most important lesson was the one she taught herself.
Photo © Sully Clemmer
Birdette Hughey never wanted to be a math teacher.
At age three, she hoped to become a competitive ice skater, following in the footsteps of her older sister. In junior high, she decided she’d be the first female pro football player — either a wide receiver or a tight end because of her speed. Then, in college, she thought it might be better to be the first female president of the United States.
“I was like, ‘Yes, I’m going to be the leader of the free world,’” Hughey says, as if it were a foregone conclusion.
Hughey, now thirty-three, is 5’8” and a quarter, with almond-colored skin and a slender frame that makes her look like she’s still a teenager. She has done none of the things she wanted to do when she was younger — at least not professionally. But her hyper-ambitious persona has translated well to a career in the classroom — so well that she was named Mississippi Teacher of the Year in 2011.
In her first year teaching, Hughey raised the scores of her Greenwood H…
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial