April Green lives her life by a quote from William Butler Yeats: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” And she is lighting students’ fires everywhere from dance floors to classroom laboratories.
Green, a native of Vicksburg, said she has been a dancer since the age of four, but her interest in science and her desire to teach didn’t manifest itself until her high school years at Vicksburg High School.
“There were three teachers that truly touched me; Annie Straughter, Alice Jones, and Susan Czaika. They brought out the best in me and encouraged my passion for science. They also had a way of inspiring all of us in their classes and that’s what made me first think about becoming a teacher.”
It was in high school as a member of the dance team Gator Girls that Green’s love of dance also thrived.
“We (the Gator Girls) went to a dance camp and a few of us were chosen to dance at a New Orleans Saints game”, Green said. “It was at that game that I knew my future didn’t lie in just science and teaching. Dance would be a big part of it, too.”
After graduating from VHS, Green enrolled at Alcorn State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in child psychology. She soon followed that with a master’s degree in education from Jackson State University.
Green began her educational career at Vicksburg Junior High as an 8th grade science teacher. That took care of two of her passions, but Green couldn’t quite shake the feeling that something in her life was missing.
Green said, “I knew I wanted to open a dance studio, but I was scared to take the risk. I went back and forth with myself for a few years. I questioned whether I’d have the necessary time to invest in it and whether it would be financially wise. But my family finally sat me down and was like, ‘Look. This is what you want to do and we believe in you. We support you, so go try.’” The April Green Dance Company opened in 2015.
As the AGDC was getting off the ground, Green’s career in education was also on the rise. Green was offered the position of lead teacher at Sherman Avenue Elementary which she held for five years before being named lead teacher at Vicksburg High School for the 2019-2020 school year.
As rewarding as those positions were, Green missed the classroom. “I just wanted to be in a place where I could do for students what inspirational teachers had done for me. I wanted to make science come alive for kids.”
The opportunity to do just that presented itself when Green learned that the Career and Technical Education (CTE) school needed a teacher for their Biomedical classes. Green got the position.
CTE is a program through which Hinds Community College Vicksburg-Warren Campus, through its Career and Technical Center, offers high school career and technical courses to the secondary students within the Vicksburg-Warren School District.
“The students in the Biomedical program have the chance to take on real world challenges through case studies and real life experiences. They’re working with the same tools used by professionals in hospitals and labs. They’re taking real case studies and working together to develop solutions,” Green said. “It’s incredible to see high school students so on fire for new knowledge and skills. And to know that I’ve had a part in lighting that fire is beyond rewarding.”
William Butler Yeats would likely agree.