Three SOCSD Teachers Honored as SOAR Teachers of Distinction

Niki Mulrooney, Tammy Gammill, and Dane Peagler

Three teachers in the Starkville Oktibbeha School District were honored as SOAR Teachers of Distinction.  Tammy Gammill, Niki Mulrooney, and Dane Peagler were recognized for excellence in the classroom.  As honorees, they were awarded $1,000.  

The SOAR Community Foundation presents the awards to recognize, reward and support excellence in teaching during the Greater Starkville Development Partnership banquet.  

About the recipients

Tammy Gammill teaches third grade at Henderson Ward Stewart Elementary School. A National Board Certified teacher for 20 years, Mrs. Gammill has been awarded $54,000 in grants for her innovative approaches to classroom instruction, which give her students a space to explore, build and grow. 

When Gammill’s fellow teachers were searching for ways to motivate students to write more, she proposed the idea of a publishing center to offer student authors a location to publish their work.  The writing center officially opened in 2017 to support and encourage students as writers.

Gammill holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Elementary Education from Mississippi State University.

Niki Mulrooney teaches fifth grade at Overstreet Elementary School. Mulrooney has encouraged her students through service learning.  For the past three years, her students write a business plan to create and sell wood block art for a purpose. Since 2017, her students have raised $7500, and the students share their profits among several school clubs and community charities.  

Most recently, Mulrooney has added chickens as a way to teach values and life skills of empathy and caring for others.  Mulrooney and her students have constructed a chicken coop at Overstreet that houses a flock of 5 chickens of varying breeds. Students care for the chickens with an assigned checklist of observations to make and duties to perform each day. 

Mulrooney is a National Board Certified teacher, and she holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in education from Mississippi State University.

Dane Peagler teaches Advanced Placement (AP) Physics, AP Computer Science Principles, Physical Science, and Physics at Starkville High School. In 2018, the national AP Physics average on the end-of-course exam was 2.42 out of 5. Peagler’s students’ average was 4.13 which was the highest in the state. In AP Computer Science Principles, 40 students outperformed state and national averages, achieving one-third of all perfect scores in MS.

Peagler is a National Board Certified teacher, and he earned two bachelor’s degrees from Mississippi State University in physics and secondary education. 

Peagler was honored as a 2019 state finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.  He was also selected as Starkville High School STAR Teacher and Starkville Oktibbeha School District Teacher of the Year in 2019.