JCJC English Instructor Named Humanities Teacher of the Year Award

Written By: Teresa Martin
Email Address: teresa.martin@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2010-11-15 17:13:55

ELLISVILLE - Jones County Junior College English instructor, Dr. Patti Smith has been named the 2010 Mississippi Humanities Teacher of the Year.  The Starkville native was selected by the Mississippi Humanities Council based on the accomplishments and contributions of the recommended faculty member. 


“Dr. Patti Smith is an instructor that is constantly in motion,” explained JCJC Vice President of Institutional Affairs and Assessment, Dr. Laverne Ulmer.  “She is continuously seeking ways to make reading real, relevant, and compelling for the students, as well as to impress upon them the ways in which literacy can enrich their lives. Most importantly, Patti sincerely cares about her students and demonstrates this with a passionate, ‘can-do’ attitude that is infectious for those around her.”


In recognition of this honor, Smith will present a personal literacy narrative, “Lifelong Literacy and the Changing Face of Reading,” illustrating the evolution of literacy and literacy instruction over the course of her own lifetime.  This free community event will be on Tuesday, November 16, at 10 a.m. in the JCJC Fine Arts Auditorium. 


“The goal of my presentation is to emphasize the importance of matching classroom instruction with today’s 21st century learner.  It is absolutely necessary for teachers to prepare today's students for life in an ever-changing world,” said Smith.  “In my presentation I will also address the nature of ‘text’, both in the traditional and current view, as well as discussing the usage of E-books.”

Smith began teaching at Jones in 2002 and completed her Ph.D. in Reading and English at the University of Southern Mississippi in 2010.   She also serves as the Quality Enhancement Plan Director at Jones. Her work played a vital part in the recent re-accreditation process at Jones.  Besides her local efforts, Smith is a consultant for the Strategic Literacy Institute based in Oakland, Calif. and represents the 15 community colleges in Mississippi in the newly developed Statewide Literacy Team for the State Department of Education. 


“Patti Smith is a wonderful choice for the Humanities Teacher of the Year award,” said Humanities Division Chair and 2009 Humanities Teacher of the Year, Cheryl Windham. “She consistently takes time from her busy schedule to facilitate the reading courses here at Jones and to assist those who are new to teaching reading. Also, her Quality Enhancement Plan, designed to improve reading comprehension through Reading Apprenticeship, is already having a positive impact on student reading comprehension at Jones. Her humanitarianism is evident in her unselfish service to those around her. I am proud to call her my colleague and my friend, and she is very deserving of this prestigious honor.”


Her passion for English and reading enhancement stems from her early years in education.  After earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from MSU, she taught kindergarten and elementary level classes for the Department of Defense Schools at Ft. Campbell, KY for six years before returning to Mississippi.  While earning her Master’s Degree in Reading at USM, Smith also taught Special Education classes for the Jones County School District.  Those experiences led her back to USM to teach Literacy Assessment, Young Adult Literature and Composition classes while supervising student teachers at USM.  She also managed to be a graduate assistant in both the Curriculum and Instruction and the English departments at USM.  All of those experiences helped her realize the need for a solid foundation in reading and English.


“Literacy is the gateway to all other learning,” said Smith. “A common misconception of literacy is that it ends with learning how to read.  Students in today's world and in tomorrow's job market are and will continue to be expected to perform at the highest levels of literacy ever.  Students graduating from high school and college without a strong background and continued support and guidance in strategic literacy will be handicapped for life.”


When Smith isn’t teaching or working on a literacy related project, she can be found presenting at major conferences including the National Council of Teachers of English, the College Composition and Communication Conference, and the College Reading Association.  She also has a recent publication in progress in collaboration with the SLI.  The 1986 Starkville Academy graduate is also busy as a mother of three daughters, Kendal, 17, Whitney, 16 and Reagan, six-years old, and she is the wife of Ed. D. Smith of Meridian. The Smiths live in Ellisville.  Dr. Smith's parents are Dr. Freddie P. Rasberry of Starkville, retired Mississippi State horticulture professor and Joan C. Rasberry, Chief Operations Officer of Security Holdings LLC in Oxford and Birmingham, AL.




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