The beauty of childhood is that it provides the truest depictions of character.
When children answer that they want to be “a fireman” when they grow up, it reflects a natural bravery. The response of “an astronaut” reflects an innate curiosity. When Ethel Young-Minor was faced with this question as a child, it would not have been surprising if she had answered “a teacher” because of her instinctive selflessness and natural ability to inspire.
Ethel Young-Minor, professor of English and African-American studies, is this year’s recipient of the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award, an award that has celebrated excellence in educators annually since 1966.
Individuals can be nominated for the award by alumni, faculty or current students. A board of past recipients of the Elsie M. Hood award selects each year’s honoree.
“It is a humbling experience to receive this award because there are so many outstanding educators here at the University,” Young-Minor said. “There is so much greatness here; I can’t imagine how they ever choose anyone.”
Young-Minor’s passion for teaching was recognized at an early age.
“Both of my parents were teachers, and most of my neighbors that I grew up with were teachers,” Young-Minor said. “My sisters and I always played school when we got together.”
Young-Minor grew up in Memphis and received a bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Tennessee. She then continued her education at Bowling Green State University in Ohio where she received her master’s and doctorate in English. Young-Minor said that she was living in Bowling Green when she applied for a job at the University of Mississippi, and that she knew she had found her fit when she visited the UM campus for the first time.
“Sitting on the committee, looking at the nominations, it was crystal clear to me that this is a teacher that causes students to want to learn,” said Kelly G. Wilson, the 2010 recipient of the award. “Great teachers like Professor Young-Minor get students excited about learning.”
The atmosphere of Young-Minor’s classroom is one that is relaxed and conversational rather than rigid like that of a lecture. In her view of education, Young-Minor said she stresses the importance of getting a “full picture” of what it is to be an intellectual. In her experience, especially as an English teacher, Young-Minor said that students respond best and grow academically if they know that their teacher cares. According to Young-Minor, “Southern hospitality” is at the root of it all.
“Teaching is my passion,” Young-Minor said. “It is always my goal to make students successful.”
Young-Minor’s students have nothing but good things to say about her.
“Her teaching methods are natural and unique. Nothing is forced. You can really tell she has a passion for it,” said Camille Jones, senior communication sciences and disorders major. “It brightens my day to come to her class.”
Casey Stafford, junior public policy major, said that any student who has not already taken a class from Young-Minor should do so.
“You can tell she has a passion for students that is incomparable to any teacher I’ve ever met,” said Stafford. “She holds you accountable for the student she knows you are.”
From the Daily Mississippian by Madison Hill