Emily Mendiola Sims realizes the impact classroom teachers can have on students. That’s why she’s devoted many years to instructing future teachers on how to be the best at their profession.

After graduating from Weaver High School, Emily attended Jacksonville State University where she received her bachelor’s with a double major in management and psychology and a master’s in secondary education English language arts. She earned her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Alabama.

Emily is currently an assistant professor in the Secondary Education Department at JSU where she instructs pre-service teachers, who are preparing to become middle and high school teachers. In August, she will assume the position of interim Secondary Education Department head. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and is a member of numerous professional organizations.

She has also taught in the Jacksonville City School System, Calhoun County School System and Gadsden State Community College.

Emily serves on the Jacksonville City Schools Board of Education and is a member of the Exchange Club.

“As I consider the impact on future generations in preparing teachers to educate today’s students, I believe that teaching students to have passion for what they do is crucial,” said Emily. “My goal is to help future teachers realize the importance of teaching with passion. Kids deserve that. When students see that you value what you do through your passionate instruction, they can’t help but want to learn the content. Simply put, people and passion matter.”

Emily was born in Tacoma, Wash., when her father was stationed at Fort Lewis. They left that area when she was about two years old and moved often. Her father had a military career in the Army, and the family lived in several other states (California, Maryland, and Utah) and Guam and Germany.

Her parents, Ben and Ann Mendiola, are originally from Guam. When her father retired at Fort McClellan, the family made Calhoun County their home. Emily has three brothers. Benny lives in Weaver, Mark lives in Jacksonville, and Roy lives in Atlanta.

Emily first met her husband, Lamar, when they were in middle school at Saks. They reconnected years later after high school at Panama City Beach.

“We go way back,” said Emily. “I think that’s why I still have a special place in my heart for middle school students. I used to tell them you never know that might be where you meet your future spouse.”

Emily is excited that both her sons, Tanner and Payton, play baseball for Enterprise State College. She’s always been a sports enthusiast. With Tanner and Payton, along with Lamar, and three brothers, sports, especially baseball, are a natural interest and hobby.

In addition to gardening and reading, she also enjoys interior designing.

“Interior designing is a way for me to visualize special concepts; I love the challenge of creating livable spaces,” she said.

“When it comes to cooking, I’m one of those people who do better if I follow recipes,” said Emily. “My mother, on the other hand, never follows a recipe. She’s a wonderful cook. My family and I like to try different types of foods so recipes are great resources.”



  • 1 block of Philadelphia cream cheese (softened to room temperature)
  • 1 can of Mexicorn (do not drain)
  • 1 finely chopped jalapeno
  • 1 1/2 cup of finely shredded cheddar cheese (reserve 1/2 cup for topping)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together until thoroughly blended. Pour into an oven-safe baking dish. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove from oven and sprinkle with a thin layer of cheddar cheese. Let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with tortilla strips/chips. 


  • 1 package of Skinner’s Garden Style Twirls pasta
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1 cucumber - sliced and cut in quarters
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of Zesty Italian salad dressing
  • 2 T. of McCormick’s Salad Supreme seasoning

Cook pasta as directed on package. Rinse and drain pasta with cold water. Pour pasta into a large salad bowl. Add bell peppers and cucumber. Gently stir in salad dressing and blend well. Mix in Salad Supreme seasoning. Refrigerate at least two hours.


  • 2 lbs. of fresh asparagus (touch ends removed about 2”)
  • 2 T. butter
  • 3 cups sliced baby portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup French-fried onions
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook asparagus on stovetop. Arrange cooked asparagus onto an oven-safe dish so that the heads are facing outward. In a large sauce pan, melt butter and sauté mushrooms until softened. Gently add flour and stir well to remove lumps. Add milk, salt, pepper, and wine. Cook for 2-3 minutes until sauce begins to thicken. Pour mixture over prepared asparagus and mushrooms. Sprinkle with French-fried onions and Panko breadcrumbs over entire dish. Baked for approximately 15 minutes until toppings are golden brown.


  • 1 lb. Ziti pasta 
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • 3 cups pasta sauce
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat bottom of 9x13 oven-safe dish with non-stick cooking spray. Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain and set aside. Remove sausage from casing and thoroughly cook on stovetop. Add pasta sauce and basil to sausage. Cook over medium heat 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat. Add ricotta cheese and Parmesan cheese; blend well. Pour mixture into baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. 

Contact Margaret at pollya922@gmail.com