Pride of the Pine Belt: Oak Grove teacher goes the extra mile for students

LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - "At Oak Grove Middle School we really believe, whole heartedly, that reading is the backbone to everything," said Oak Grove Middle School Teacher, Tina Ladner.

Ladner teaches sixth grade language arts and social studies at the middle school. When you hear her goals as a teacher they may sound familiar.

"To help these students learn so that they can go to the next grade knowing the material they need to know. So that they can become successful in life," said Ladner.

But it's her approach that makes her stand out.

"Well, I've always had a library in my classroom but never to this extent," said Ladner.

Only one student can go the middle school's library at a time, so this summer, Ladner decided to build a library in her classroom, making books available to any student at any time.

"My husband bought a turning bookshelf for me, and he built several shelves for all the books," said Ladner.

Ladner bought books at yard sales, consignment shops even calling on donations to stock her classroom.

"If you are skilled in reading that is going to take you further in every single subject. Readers truly are leaders, and that is just the incentive behind everything," said Ladner.

These students aren't reading just for fun. She keeps track of their progress taking them from yellow, the lowest level, to purple, the highest level. Ladner's teaching isn't one dimensional. It can go from the desk to the dance floor.

"She uses a lot of music and movement in her teaching," said Oak Grove Middle School Sixth Grader, Joshua Shurden.

"You do have to, at some point, decide this is really it, and I probably will retire in December or May of next year," said Ladner.

Retirement may prove to be difficult for Ladner considering her Sixth Grade Assistant Principal, Arlene Barefoot describes her as a teacher who doesn't stop thinking about education.

"She is always looking for new ideas, looking for things to use with her students. She works summers, nights, early mornings. It never stops," said Barefoot.

"It may be that I teach in a private school, or do something else because I really don't think that at age 51- years-old I will be able to sit at home," said Ladner.