How East Mississippi’s Katerina McClendon Helps Students See that Failure is Not an Option
“Miss McClendon is a very big part of our family here at East Mississippi,” says Donald Jackson, warden of the East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF) in Meridian, MS, where Katerina McClendon is the principal of programs.
“She works very well with staff, as well as inmates. And [the Mississippi Department of Corrections] is happy that we have her as well. I think it’s a plus for EMCF, [as well as] MTC when you have a teacher with that much dedication. I think a lot of staff are picking up on her attitude, and I think that’ll make them a better person at the same time.”
“Any chance I get to motivate, I’m on it,” says Katerina. “I’m on it. Putting motivational quotes up. Trying to go into the classroom and give them something. A little nugget to take back with them.”
Todd Brewer is a resident of the facility. “She’s awesome,” he says. “You can tell that teaching is not just a profession for her – it’s her life. That makes a difference. She has a t-shirt she wears, and I love it, and it just says ‘Teacher Mode’ and it has ‘On’ and ‘Off’ [graphics] and, of course, ‘On’ is lit up real bright. And she means it. Her goal is simple: help men get their education. And that’s the bottom line.”
“There is a positive reaction with her,” Warden Jackson says. “I mean, she’s always smiling, having a very personal attitude, a great attitude, every time she comes to work. She never complains.”
“When I’m given a task, failure is not an option,” states Katerina. “If somebody believes in me enough to give me this position and believes in me to do the best that I can do, that’s what drives me. My family is really what grounds me. They give me that ‘oomph’ that I need. We have cookouts, we have dinners, invite the kids and the grandkids over. I love family. I love family, I’m very family-oriented. And even when I approach my job, I approach it as we’re a unit and we’re going to stick together and we’re going to figure out how to work things through. Family isn’t perfect, but we’re going to stick together, and we’re going to figure out how to get through it.”