Arnetra O. Pleas, an English instructor on the Ridgeland Campus, has been named Holmes Community College's 2016 Humanities Teacher of the Year.
As part of her award, Pleas has developed and will deliver her scholarly presentation titled, "Anti-Slavery Protest in the Works of Jupiter Hammon, Phillis Wheatley, and Frances Harper." Pleas will deliver this presentation at 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 17 in the Multimedia Room 130 of the D.P. "Pat" McGowan Workforce Training Center on the Ridgeland Campus. The lecture is free, and the public is encouraged to attend.
The Humanities Teacher Awards recognize the contributions of humanities faculty at each of the state's colleges and universities. Nominations are made by the college or university president or humanities dean.
A member of the Holmes family since 2009, Pleas serves as an academic advisor, co-facilitator of the iCreate Creative Arts Club, and instructor of Composition I/II (Hybrid and Traditional), African-American Literature, and Intermediate English and Reading. She uses innovative methods that bring the subject matter alive. For the 2014-15 academic year, she also served as evening coordinator, which gave her the opportunity to provide leadership and supervision of evening adjunct faculty.
Pleas holds a B.A. in English from Tougaloo College and an M.A.T. in English from Jackson State University. She was also a part of the Advanced Placement Institute at the University of Louisiana Monroe and her certifications include: Mississippi Endorsements: English 7-12/AP English Literature and certification as a State of Mississippi Teacher Mentor.
Additionally, Pleas has worked at the University of Mississippi Medical Center as an instructor in The Medical Cooperative Program, where she taught Verbal Reasoning and in the Science Training Enrichment Program, where she taught Reading Comprehension. Pleas also formerly served as English instructor/department chairperson at Velma Jackson High School and at The Piney Woods School. Prior to these positions, she was an elementary school teacher at Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare.
Pleas has earned a number of awards and recognitions for her dedication to the teaching profession. Some of these include the William Winter Scholar for the Humanities, MED CORP Teacher Appreciation Award, Velma Jackson High School Teacher of the Year, Mississippi Economic Council STAR Teacher, Who's Who Among America's Teachers, Disney Creative Teacher Nominee, and The Piney Woods School Teacher of the Month.
A lifelong learner, Pleas participated in the four-week fellowship, "African-American Struggles for Freedom and Civil Rights," which was part of the National Endowment for the Humanities Institute at Harvard University. As one of 25 nationally selected college and university faculty, she attended lectures, workshops, film screenings, and fieldtrips that centered on challenges to equality and civil rights for African Americans from Reconstruction to the 1960s. The Institute was co-facilitated by distinguished historians Dr. Patricia Sullivan (University of South Carolina) and Dr. Waldo Martin (University of California, Berkeley). Additionally, she was a participant in a similar enrichment institute, the 4Ws, a nine-month long study of the works of Richard Wright, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, and Margaret Walker sponsored by the Mississippi Humanities Council.
"I am deeply honored to be chosen for this special award. My work in the humanities discipline has been fueled by my passion for the oral and written word, particularly for poetry and storytelling. I chose to explore Hammon, Wheatley, and Harper, three obscure poets in the American literary canon, because their work is significant in its stylistic and thematic approaches despite the fact that two of these individuals were, in fact, chattel while composing much of their work. The goal of my presentation is to inspire the audience to read and to research further these extraordinary figures and to encourage my colleagues to add them to their syllabi and/or classroom discussions."
Pleas will be recognized by the Mississippi Humanities Council at the 2017 Public Humanities Awards Reception in February at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson.
IN THIS PHOTO:
Pictured is Arnetra O. Pleas, an English instructor on the Ridgeland Campus, whom has been named Holmes Community College's 2016 Humanities Teacher of the Year. She will present her lecture at 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 17 in the McGowan Auditorium on the Ridgeland Campus.