Mabus receives TYCAM's Ovid Vickers Award

Grenada Campus English Instructor and English, Foreign Language and Speech Department co-chair at Holmes Amber Mabus recently received the Ovid S. Vickers Award for Excellence in The Teaching of English from the Two-Year College English Association of Mississippi at their annual meeting at Eagle Ridge Conference Center in Raymond in late September.

The Two-Year College English Association of Mississippi, TYCAM, is fashioned after and affiliated with TYCA-SE, the Two-Year College English Association-Southeast, which is a part of The National Council of Teachers of English, NCTE. TYCA-SE has 10 states in its region and has been in existence for nearly 45 years.

"Jessica Brown presented the award, and she was asked to describe the recipient," Mabus, a Holmes alumna, explained. "Honestly, I was completely shocked when I realized that Jessica was describing me. I felt incredibly honored to have been nominated for the award.

"I love my job at Holmes," she said. "I look forward to getting up and coming to Holmes every morning, so what I do doesn't feel like work. For me, teaching at Holmes is an enjoyable challenge, which is ideal for me! I love my students and coworkers. It is like a second home to me."

Mabus said her goal in the classroom is to help her students become independent thinkers and writers. "My classes are never 100 percent lecture, which I think helps students stay engaged. I begin class by introducing a new topic, I show my students several examples and then I give students a small activity to complete.

"For most assignments, I give students the option of working alone or in groups, depending on their personal preference," she said. "After students complete the activity, we discuss the assignment as a class. I do require students to work in groups on some assignments, but I try to assemble groups based on student compatibility and work ethic. In those cases, every student is responsible for a small section of the assignment.

"I try to incorporate short videos and writing topics that are relevant to students today. I never give 'busy work.' Every assignment my students complete in my face-to-face classes has a specific purpose and relates to larger assignments or skills they will use in the work force or when they transfer to a university. I try to make my classes as practical as possible. I realize most of my students are not English majors, so I try to incorporate lessons that will help them succeed after they leave Holmes. I encourage my students to always ask questions, and I insist that I am always happy to help however I can. I try to create an environment where my students can learn without judgement."

"Amber is most deserving of the Ovid S. Vickers award," department co-chair Jessica Brown said. "She perfectly embodies the characteristics of an instructor worthy of this award. She is intelligent, innovative, encouraging, and enthusiastic. I'm sure the students and staff on the Grenada campus would all say they have a blessing in Amber Mabus. She has certainly been a blessing to me as a co-chair of our department.

"I am excited for Amber to receive this prestigious recognition, but I am not surprised," she said. "TYCAM seeks out only the best instructors for this award, and we all know Amber certainly ranks among the best!"

Prior to coming to Holmes full-time in 2015, she taught English at Grenada High School and served as an adjunct instructor at Holmes.

Harrison has an associate's degree from Holmes Community College, a bachelor's degree from Delta State University and a master's degree from Delta State University.