Having already stopped to smell the roses, Dr. Mary Beth Evans is
back on the job.
86-year old University of Southern Mississippi professor's response
when asked why she hasn't long since retired, like most of her contemporaries.
people have said, 'Why don't you drive around and see things, see
the world?'" Evans said. "But I've already done that.
have to work, but I want to. It gets me excited, working with students,
and I appreciate the chance to do it."
For her lifelong
dedication to education, Evans has been selected as a statewide
honoree in the Love of Learning category for BlueCross BlueShield's
Mississippi Ageless Hero awards program.
Evans was chosen
from among 400 nominees for the honor, which is given to Mississippians
age 65 and over whose lives are "filled with activity, vitality,
and accomplishments and who serve as role models for us all,"
according to the company's description of nominees.
Dr. Mark Richmond,
a longtime colleague of Evans' at Southern Miss, concurs with that
description, which inspired him to nominate Evans for the honor.
with her for many years, and I've always been inspired by her intellect
and ability to get things done," Richmond said. "She was
the first person I thought of (to nominate) when I heard about this
In his nomination
of Evans, Richmond noted her enduring vitality, citing her trip
last year to Taiwan, unescorted, to visit one of her former graduate
students and observe early childhood education facilities in several
of the country's cities.
With more than
66 years' experience as an educator, at both the grade school and
college levels, Evans says she has as much desire to continue working
books, gaining knowledge, the discovery aspect (of education),"
Evans said of her early inspiration from her teachers to choose
a career as an educator. "And it's (the enjoyment) still there."
working as a grade school teacher, including at Northwest Missouri
State University's laboratory school for student teachers, where
she received her undergraduate degree. She earned her master's degree
at the University of Iowa and her doctorate at Wayne State University.
for 35 years on the faculty at Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa,
prior to joining the Southern Miss faculty. She also attended Graceland
as an undergraduate student when the school was a community college.
of the biggest changes she has seen in education, the various swings
in teaching strategies stand out most. She said she agrees in part
with certain aspects of the current federal No Child Left Behind
Act, which focuses on meeting standards in each state for what students
should know and learn in reading and math in grades 3-8, but said,
"I want to make sure we focus on all facets (of educating students),
including the creativity part."
be recognized at an awards luncheon March 30 at the Hattiesburg
Lake Terrace Convention Center, where legendary National Football
League coach Don Shula will be the guest speaker. As part of the
Ageless Hero Program, BlueCross BlueShield will donate $2,000 to
each honoree's favorite charity.
think it's very appropriate that Dr. Evans has been honored as an
Ageless Hero," said Kelsey Matthews, a Southern Miss senior
from Hattiesburg majoring in elementary education. "Being in
her classroom, you would never guess her age because of the energy
and excitement she brings. She has truly inspired me in becoming
a teacher, that I might touch lives just as she has."
Dr. Dana Thames,
chair of the Southern Miss Department of Curriculum, Instruction
and Special Education, described Evans as a tremendous resource
to the department's faculty, with her many years of expertise in
early childhood education, and proof that "age is no barrier."
the epitome of a professional," Thames said.
colleague at Southern Miss--, Dr. Jeffrey Evans, a professor in
the Southern Miss Department of Chemistry, said his mother was a
role model for his own career in education. He said she also gives
hope to people her age that they can continue to be viable members
of their community, even late in life.
inspired a lot of people, me included, to serve others in teaching,
and she's inspired a lot of people to realize their worth as they
get older," he said.