Even at age 95, University of Southern Mississippi professor Dr. Mary Beth Evans still enjoys coming to work to help her students prepare for rewarding careers as educators.
That passion for education has not gone unnoticed by one of the region’s top educational organizations, the Mid-South Educational Research Association, which recently recognized her with its top honor, the Walter M. Mathews Historical Contributions Award. The award was recently presented to Evans at the organization’s annual meeting, held Nov. 7-9 in Lexington, Ky.
The award was created by the MSERA’s board of directors in 1999 to honor the organization’s founder, Dr. Walter M. Mathews. It recognizes the contributions recipients have made in the growth and development of MSERA. Founded in 1972, the MSERA’s stated mission is to encourage and provide results of quality educational research in elementary and secondary schools, as well as institutions of higher learning.
Evans has been a member of the College of Education and Psychology’s Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education (CISE) faculty for nearly 25 years in a career in education approaching nearly 75 years. She earned a Ed.D. in administration and supervision from Wayne State University in 1964, and her areas of expertise include early childhood education and the arts.
Her other career honors include the Blue Cross/Blue Shield’s Ageless Hero Award for Lifelong Learning in 2004. “God has given me the strength so far to continue doing what I love to do, and people who accept me to do it,” Evans said. “I still love doing what I do and believe I can make a difference.”
Evans has taught or directed education programs and been instrumental in developing model summer school programs across the U.S., as well as programs in early childhood. She has researched educational initiatives around the world, studying early childhood education programming in Taiwan, China, Haiti and England.
She has presented her research at numerous conferences and seminars at the state, national and international levels, and has been published in multiple journals.
Assistant professor Dr. Rose Jones, Evans’ departmental colleague at Southern Miss, also attended the meeting, where Jones was recognized for her four years of service on the MSREA board. Jones said she was thrilled to be with Evans when she was presented with the award.
“You have to have a strong commitment to this organization to earn the Matthews Award, and Dr. Evans has made that commitment over many years,” she said. “She has been a wonderful inspiration to so many people who are members of this organization.”
For information about the Southern Miss Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education and its programs, online visit www.usm.edu/cise.