The Mississippi Department of Education on Friday announced the 2017 teacher and administrator of the year — Pearl Junior High Principal Jessica Broome and 6th grade math teacher Luke Daniels of Petal School District.

After an intensive selection process that narrows down four finalists from each of the congressional districts, one teacher and one administrator are selected.

The 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 Education Department said.

Dr. Jessica Broome, Pearl Junior High principal Credit: Mississippi Dept. of Education

Broome has served as principal at Pearl since 2011, and has worked as a teacher, administrator and state-level leader in Mississippi and Georgia. She helped the district improve its graduation rate to its highest rate of 87.1 percent last year, the MDE press release said.

Broome also helped to increase the number of students meeting or exceeding learning goals from 47.1 percent in 2015 to 50 percent in 2016, according to the Mississippi Department of Education.

“Simple school management from the principal is no longer adequate. Instructional leadership that is transformational, data-driven, and that results in improved instruction from teachers is critical to improving student achievement, and ultimately, to ensuring sustained student school success,” Broome said in the press release.

Luke Daniels, Mississippi Teacher of the Year Credit: Mississippi Dept. of Education

Daniels, who teaches at Petal Upper Elementary School, was selected as the teacher of the year.

“I love giving students, who have never experienced it, a taste of success. Success is addictive, so it is of paramount importance that we help every student, even if only in a small way, experience it,” Daniels said in the press release. “Once the snowball starts rolling, it’s impossible to stop.”

“I congratulate both recipients for the well-deserved honors,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “They are examples of the outstanding educators in Mississippi who are committed professionals and who focus on preparing each child to be successful in school and in life.”

Each will receive a $5,000 stipend, and Daniels will travel to Washington, D.C., to meet the President and First Lady and participate in a Rose Garden recognition ceremony at the White House.

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Kate Royals is a Jackson native and returned to Mississippi Today as the lead education reporter after serving in the same capacity from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, she was a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger covering education and state government. She won awards for her investigative work, including stories about the state’s campaign finance laws and prison system. She was a news producer at MassLive in Springfield, Mass., after graduating from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communications with a master’s degree in communications.