Mississippi College Math Graduate Justin Odom Named Clinton Teacher of the Year
December 5, 2013
Justin Odom, who’s shined as the MATHCOUNTS coach at Clinton Junior High and inspired his students to become among the state’s very best, is getting recognized for his hard work.
Today, the 2008 Mississippi College mathematics graduate was named the Clinton Public School District’s Teacher of the Year.
Odom “does whatever it takes to ensure his students have had every opportunity to be successful in the classroom,” Clinton Junior High Principal Anthony Goins said. Simply put, he’s “an excellent teacher who truly cares about people and Clinton Junior High.”
Odom in early December competed with other solid candidates around the Clinton district that’s among the leaders statewide in test scores.
Teaching pre-Algebra, honors Algebra and coaching MATHCOUNTS students to national competitions, Odom works closely with a wide range of youngsters – from extremely poor math skills to those who are quite talented.
During interviews with judges Wednesday, Odom said he expects excellence in his classrooms every day. But the 8th grade math instructor who teaches 160 students can’t do it alone.
“Another thing I believe in 100 percent is parental involvement,” Odom said in an essay about his teaching philosophy. “I believe in this so much that I tell parents to email or call me often. I do not consider it a burden; in fact, I enjoy hearing from the parents of my students.”
Graduating from Mississippi College Magna Cum Laude in 2008 with an impressive 3.86 grade point average, Odom credits his peers at Clinton Junior High with helping him become an effective teacher after joining the faculty months later.
John Travis, chairman of the MC Mathematics Department, said Odom has stepped in to an admiral job advancing a superb MATHCOUNTS program. “Continuing an excellent program is difficult to do.”
His daughter, Laura Travis, is a 7th grader who enjoys being one of his MATHCOUNTS students. Another daughter, Sarah Travis, a Clinton High senior, also had a terrific experience as one of Odom’s students in MATHCOUNTS.
“We are proud of all of our graduates, but especially so of all of our graduates who receive these special recognitions,” Travis said when reached at his office on the Clinton campus this morning.
Working with students at various academic levels isn’t easy. “This means my teaching strategies must be multi-faceted in order to challenge students at every level,” Odom said.
The Clinton resident is a May 2004 graduate of Kingwood High School in Texas before enrolling at MC. At the Baptist-affiliated university, he received the outstanding senior in mathematics student award for 2007-2008.
A mission trip to India when he was a Mississippi College undergraduate eight years ago had a big influence on his life and helped solidify Justin’s decision to become a teacher. At the time, he worked with Indian children.
Odom is a member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Education Association. He was named runner-up for teacher of the year the past two years at Clinton Junior High before receiving the top award in 2013-14.
Clinton School District Superintendent Phil Burchfield, assistant superintendent Tim Martin, Goins and others joined Odom for the surprise presentation this morning at Clinton Junior High.
Photo: Justin Odom is an 8th grade math teacher at Clinton Junior High and a 2008 Mississippi College mathematics graduate.