"This is Lori's sixth year at Holice Powell," said principal Alice Seratt. "Lori is great at classroom management. Her students know the routine and everything flows well. That behavior carries over to the lunchroom and other areas of the school. Lori also takes her data and makes it student-friendly. She charts their progress on a color chart and (her students) can tell at a glance how they are doing."
Joyce has taught fourth grade for each of the six years she has been employed at Holice Powell. She had seven years experience prior to joining the Dyer County School System, teaching first grade in Gleason for one year and kindergarten in Martin for six. She has also served Holice Powell as an individual tutor in the school's after-school program since 2010.
Joyce first chose nursing as her college major. But after two years of nursing work and clinicals, she realized that her heart was not in the profession she was pursuing.
"While growing up in a middle-class family with strong Christian values, I was told many times that I was going to college so that I would have the opportunity to get a good job that I would love and enjoy with all my heart," said Joyce in her TOY application.
"I started working with little bitty children," said Joyce. "And they started remembering the things that I taught them."
Joyce was hooked.
In addition to fourth-grade fundamentals, Joyce passes on the important lesson she learned from her parents and her search for a profession that she would truly enjoy.
"I tell my kids every day, 'You've got to work and enjoy it and smile,'" said Joyce. "No matter what is going on in your life, when you hit the door at work you become what the children need. You are happy and you welcome them to your room."
Other life lessons are entwined in Joyce's classroom activities.
"My motto is 'Be the best you can be,'" said Joyce. "And my room revolves around respect."
A list on the classroom whiteboard reminds both Joyce and her students of another set of classroom rules. This time, the rules are for the teacher.
"I am 'firm, fair and consistent,'" Joyce said, motioning to the reminder on her board. "And I am only who I am today because of all the help and support I receive. It's not just me - it's all of us because we (educators) work together. This is a really good school and I have learned a lot here. (And) our education coaches have helped us, guided us and inspired us to do better."
Joyce's students praise her both for her patience and that ever-present smile.
"She is a good teacher," said Jayden Patterson. "'Cause she teaches me things I never learned. I can figure it out because she taught me the right way to do it."
"She is nice," said Mikayla Sweat. "She don't yell very much and she helps us whenever we need it."
"She always makes me laugh and she is a real good teacher," said Allyson Rigsby. "She comes in every day happy and if we get something wrong, she always tells us it's okay that we tried to do it."
"She is funny," said Miracle Ybarra. "She can talk British. She thinks you can come to work and be fun. She helps us learn about all kinds of stuff in school."
"I like how she is always fair about everything," said Lawson Holland. "She is firm and consistent. She always comes in a good mood. If something bad happens, she just worries about us."
"If we look upset or something, she won't tell everyone," said Madison Warden. "She'll bring us to her desk and ask us what's wrong. Whenever we get something wrong, she'll go back and explain it to us and she's real nice about things."
"She's a really nice teacher," said Kaylee Lamb. "If I have trouble on an answer, I can ask her what to do and she also says to be the best we can be."
Bryton Midkiff explains one way students can work toward Joyce's motto.
"By listening and following directions," said Midkiff.
"Her main rule is 'Be the best you can be,'" said Addison Jones. "That's just one rule that everybody sticks by. Everything is fine with her, she is so sweet and nice."
"Mrs. Lori is nice," said Bradley Clark. "When we are doing cards, the person who has the most points, they get a treat. She helps us when we have a question."
Anezi Clanton said math is her favorite part of Joyce's class.
"Math is very fun because she helps us," said Clanton.
Math and social studies are Ethan Pevahouse's favorite part of Joyce's class.
"She is nice and she is always fair," said Pevahouse. "She helps us with stuff."
"She's really nice," said Adrianna Rogers. "And anytime we have trouble with stuff, she helps us and we really learn fast."
Jaxon Walls' favorite subject is science because of the experiments students perform in Joyce's class. His favorite experiment was the one on simple current.
"I like reading because we get to switch classes and it's real fun," said Alice Welch. "She makes us laugh a lot and she's a very nice person."
A peek into Joyce's room shows the feelings are quite mutual.
"This is a good class," said Joyce. "They are well-behaved and they work hard. And if they don't, they come back and take care of it. It has been a good year."