We are…educators. We are Alcorn.

They say to become a great educator, to enlighten new generations, is a higher calling, just like becoming a great doctor and saving lives or to be an artist and fascinate the audience. One has to have talent, passion, creativity and a great deal of dedication and patience to become successful as an educator. Today, we will meet three Alcornites who are distinguished educators that exemplify what a true educator should be. Different generations of Alcornites at different stages of their career, but what unites them all is the love for their alma mater and passion for education.

Eric Smith ’09 teaches six-grade math at Robert Lewis Magnet School, Natchez-Adams School District, Natchez, Mississippi. For his passion, creative approach and successes in the classroom, Smith was named the Teacher of the Year for the school district in 2013. He was also named a Teacher of the Year at Frazier Elementary where he served as fourth-grade teacher last year. As one of the top teachers in the district, he works continuously on improving academic achievement. Smith works hard to make his lessons interesting and to motivate his students about learning.

Dr. Alexine P. Wright ’00, ’03 holds bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in secondary education and doctor of education degree. Wright has 14 years of working in education under her belt having taught at Gulfport School District, Gulfport, Mississippi, Natchez High School, Natchez, Mississippi, William Winans Middle School in Centerville, Mississippi, and she even taught at her alma mater as an adjunct instructor for several years. Now, Wright is an educational consultant and achievement coach, and the owner of PEAK Achievement. In 2013, she was selected for the Adrian Crouch Humanitarian Award for her tremendous work helping a failing school district grow from an F to a C school and for increasing its English II passing rate from 59 percent to 78 percent passing, and increasing its high school graduation rate to 98 percent.

While attending Alcorn, Wright learned the importance of hard work, commitment, and determination. “At Alcorn, I developed the leadership and social skills I needed to become the successful woman I am today,” shared Wright. “My professors at Alcorn had a deep passion for the courses they taught. As a result, their passion, content knowledge and creativity helped me develop that same passion for my education and my career.”

She added, “I always talk to my students about college. The first college I mention and discuss is always Alcorn. I have several former students from Natchez and Gulfport who were and are enrolled at Alcorn. The quality of Alcorn’s academics and campus life will give you a momentous and memorable post secondary experience that will provide you with the tools and skills needed to become a successful and productive leader who will change the world.”

Charlene Fountain ’75 has over 30 years of experience in education. She works as a first grade teacher at McNeal Elementary in Canton, Mississippi. For going above and beyond the call of duty to inspire, motivate and elevate her students, Fountain was selected 2012-2013 Teacher of the Year by Canton Public School District.

Fountain’s passion for education developed early on, “Because of the dedicated and nurturing teachers I encountered while being a student, I decided to be a teacher.” While quenching her thirst for knowledge, Fountain earned a bachelor’s, master’s and a specialist in education degrees. The purpose of earning her degrees was to give back to her community. She has taught in several parts of the state and then moved to Canton to teach children that come from families that live below the poverty level.

Fountain says she plans to “continue her career until I am satis