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Eubanks receives Humanities Teacher of the Year award

After almost 28 years of teaching at Jones College, Melanie Eubanks, fine arts instructor, was awarded Humanities Teacher of the Year.

“I was really excited,” Eubanks said about the reward. “It validates what is important to me.”

Many of Eubanks’ coworkers have been awarded Humanities Teacher of the Year, and she said they all deserved what they worked hard for.  Receiving this award was a big surprise for her and her hard-working career.  Eubanks teaches many art classes such as Art Appreciation, Ceramics, Art History, Painting, Drawing I and II at Jones and art at the elementary schools during the fall.

Eubanks’ first memories of her love of art were around the age of five when she visited her grandparents in Mize, Mississippi.  She and her older cousins liked to play in a creek that consisted of red clay.  She watched and learned from her cousins, who were making four-legged animals out of the clay.

“Clay leads to creativity,” said Eubanks.

Eubanks also had a love to write poetry, but having a career in art was not on her mind.

“I did not try art seriously until high school. My teachers encouraged me,” she said.

Eubanks decided to take a drawing and painting class at The University of Southern Mississippi her first year, and as a result, she decided to change her major going into the spring of her sophomore year.  Eubanks took her classes during the summers and eventually obtained her bachelor’s degree.  After finishing her undergraduate degree, Eubanks decided to become an art teacher.

“I was excited to work alongside other artists. I wanted to teach because I liked being a student in school,” she said.

Later, Eubanks graduated with her Master’s Degree in Art Education and a minor in Art History.  Eubanks’ first teaching job was at Jones College where she has remained to this day.  She also had experience being a substitute teacher at the schools in her hometown, Pascagoula, Mississippi. 

“I am a part of Mrs. Eubanks’ Art Appreciation class this semester, and if anyone has had her, they know how positive and easygoing she is. After a stressful Tuesday and Thursday morning from previous classes, it is nice to go to her class and take a breather from all the chaos. She seems very passionate about art as well. Even though I am not very familiar with the art world, Mrs. Eubanks makes learning about its history enjoyable. Mrs. Eubanks is a great instructor but more than that, a wonderful person. I can’t wait to learn more from her!” said freshman student Elda Cook.

Eubanks also enjoys speaking French on Skype with her friends.

“I like to practice speaking French,” Eubanks said. “I have friends who live in France, and we will take turns speaking our languages.”

Eubanks had the opportunity to spend time in France in 2018 for three weeks and said she would love to return one day.

Another hobby Eubanks enjoys is gardening and seeing her son’s theater performances.

“My son is getting his driver’s license, so my weeks are soon to be changed,” she said.

Jones College awarded Eubanks March 3 with an awards ceremony in the M.P. Bush Fine Arts Auditorium.  Following the award presentation, Eubanks shared her story about how she found her passion for art and talked about the history of art. She shared historical art, videos, and material pieces she uses in her class.

The Jones College administration and Mississippi Humanities Council Member, Carol Anderson, opened and closed the ceremony and mentioned their gratitude for Eubanks.  After her many years of teaching, her award validates her passion in life.

by Mikayla Rainey

Melanie Eubanks gave a pottery presentation after the Humanities Teacher of the Year ceremony. Photos by Laiklynn Roberts

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