ELLISVILLE, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from Jones County Junior College.
The "newcomer" to the group of 11 GED teachers in the Jones County Junior College Adult Basic Education department earned a prestigious title recently. Michael Yarbrough of Laurel was named the Southern Region Adult Educator of the Year by the Mississippi Association of Adult and Community Educators at their annual conference. Yarbrough teaches adult education classes at the WIN Job Center in Laurel and has been employed with JCJC for a year-and-a-half. Director of the ABE/GED program at JCJC, Jennifer Griffith explained Yarbrough's adaptability and his innovative teaching earned him the recognition.
"In his first year-and-a-half teaching for Jones, he has been flexible in his work assignments, moving from the traveling adult education tutor, to substitute adult education teacher, to full-time single-site instructor. He has introduced innovative methods and approaches to his students while also achieving significant success with his classes."
Yarbrough gives credit to his co-workers for their willingness to show him "the ropes" as well as being open to new ideas and perspectives.
"The award was definitely a surprise, said Yarbrough. "I have taught in various educational settings, but for the seven-years prior to coming to Jones, I taught 6th grade math at South Jones Elementary. Some may not see the connection, but teaching middle school math perfectly prepared me for being an Adult Basic Education instructor. It's at that middle school level where the majority of our students began to struggle or fall behind. Most were not successful in the traditional educational setting. This challenges me, as an educator, to look for new and various ways to teach them," said the newest Adult Educator of the Year.
He further explained as the instructor, he is a part of the team in guiding and facilitating student's discoveries. Yarbrough said most of his students already have job and real world experiences.
"I am thrilled to see the connections from what we are learning in class to situations they are experiencing outside the classroom. All educators realize they are much more to their students than someone who presents them with information; this is even more true with our students. When they see that you care and are investing in their life, the learning potential goes through the roof!" said Yarbrough.
To even be considered for this honor, Yarbrough had to be nominated by a fellow teacher or director and had to have at least one-year of teaching experience in Adult Education. Griffith said there are about 360 teachers in the state who are eligible each year. Yarbrough's "fresh ideas" and innovative methods made him stand out from the other nominees. She added Yarbrough not only came to the conference but he also presented at this year's ABE Summer Conference.
"This is rare because most teachers with fewer than three-years of experience hardly ever present at the Summer Conference. His presentation was on adapting to the environment one teaches in, using the tools you have in the classroom and to address and approach students' problems in new ways.Michael is definitely a great asset to our team. He is committed to our students and our college and we are thrilled to have him at Jones."
Griffith said she also thinks how he handled three job title changes in less than one-year without complaint while always tackling the new assignment with vigor, made him an obvious choice for the judges. Yarbrough joins three other JCJC ABE instructors who also received this award in previous years: David Clark at Greene County, Jane Jones at the JCJC campus and Caleb Smith at the JCJC campus.