FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 26, 2010
Contact: Cydney Archie
Smith MUW’s Black History Month Educator of the Year nominee
COLUMBUS, Miss.—Dr. Lillie Gayle Smith, assistant professor in the College of Education and Human Sciences at Mississippi University for Women, was chosen as the university’s Black History Month Educator of the Year nominee.
Every year, the Mississippi Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning honors a faculty or staff member from each public university in the state for advancing diversity at their institutions.
Dr. Smith, a native of York, Ala., spent most of her life in Ohio, including 20 years in Kent. She attended the University of West Alabama, where she earned her bachelor of arts degree in English. She earned her master’s in special education from the University of Alabama and a doctorate in cultural foundations from Kent State University.
When Dr. Smith was growing up, most of her family members were teachers which motivated her to follow that path. It was a natural fit because “I was born to teach,” she stated. Smith taught for more than 25 years in public schools in Alabama, Ohio and Mississippi, from kindergarten through 12th grade. After teaching two years at Delta State University, she came to MUW in the fall of 2006.
Dr. Smith is committed to diversity. For example, she is a student of the Holocaust whose studies have included a seminar, Jewish Resistance, at the University of Haifa in Israel and tours of concentration camps such as Auschwitz in Poland and Terezin in the Czech Republic. One summer she also taught English at a language institute in Warsaw, Poland. During spring break in 2007 and 2008, Smith drove to New Orleans to assist students from Salem State College (Massachusetts) in rebuilding the Lower Ninth Ward.
Closing the achievement gap is Dr. Smith's major research interest. Recently, she contributed a chapter, “Black Grandmothers: Agents of Academic Achievement,” to “Connecting the Literacy Puzzle: Linking the Professional, Personal, and Social Literacies,”edited by Kent State professor Joanne K. Dowdy and Sandra Golden. The book is slated to be published by Creskill by the end of March.
She is currently completing a biography, “An Extraordinary Ordinary Life,” about her maternal grandfather, Charlie Sampson, who lived from 1870–1968 and was committed to family, faith and education despite the economic, social and political turbulence of the period.
When asked about being the nominee from MUW, she said, “I feel truly honored because I think this is a wonderful example of the state’s as well as the university’s acknowledgment of diversity.”
Dr. Smith attends Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Columbus.