Jessica W. Brown, Holmes Community College English instructor, was awarded the Gregory Cowan Memorial Award for Excellence in the Teaching of English at the annual Two Year College Association of Southeastern Region (TYCA-SE) Conference in February held in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she delivered her speech, “No Teacher Is An Island (Though Some May Wish Us to Remain There).” TYCA-SE is affiliated with the National Council Teachers of English (NCTE) and TYCA National, and she has been a member for the past 10 years. In the 42-year history of the Cowan Award, Brown is the 10th Mississippian and the first from Holmes to receive the award.
The Gregory Cowan Memorial Award for Excellence in the Teaching of English is the highest award given to an English instructor based on a nomination of peers and a thorough evaluation of course assignments, syllabi, and course design led by TYCA-SE board members.
Brown published the article, “Speaking Deliberately: The Conversational Project” in the TYCA-SE Journal Vol. 50. no. 1 (Spring 2017): 24-28 and has presented at numerous professional conferences with topics such as: “Writing a 19th Century Nun as a Damsel in Distress” (SCMLA, Houston, TX); “Y’all Can Do It, Too: The Mississippi Community College Creative Writing Association Builds on Mississippi’s Writing Tradition” (co-presented with Chad Moorer, TYCA-SE, Memphis, Tennessee); “Speaking Deliberately: The Conversational Project (TYCA-SE, Knoxville, TN); and led a few roundtables centered on topics of composition, developmental English and Reading, and literature.
For the past 17 years as an instructor at Holmes and as co-division chair (2016-2022), Brown has dedicated her career to student success. During her time at Holmes, she has held several positions within her department from an academic advisor for English education majors and dual enrolled students to Writing Center founder and director (2014-2016) as well as an online course designer for literature courses, composition courses and Beginning English and Reading. She has and continues to serve as an online instructor for American literature and World Literature as well as a face to face instructor on the Goodman Campus for Beginning English and Reading, English Composition I and II and American Literature.
Brown’s teaching style is scholarly yet learner centered. She teaches students different types of writing from narrative to argumentative all while building a student’s empathy and critical thinking skills.
“I want students to think as the expert and envision the possibilities so I approach learning in ways to engage with the students by varying the experience in the classroom,” Brown said.
In addition to teaching, Brown is currently working on her Doctor of Arts in English Pedagogy through Murray State University. She plans to graduate in the spring of 2025 but already uses the research, writing, assessment building and teaching techniques she has acquired through the program within her own classroom.
Brown grew up in Vicksburg but now resides in Canton with her husband Jeffrey, and their three boys, Jude (11); Malcolm (8) and Frankie (6). She is an active parishioner at Sacred Heart Catholic Church serving as a Mass Lector and Sunday School Teacher. She loves to read, travel, relearn piano and watch her boys explore their own personal interests and endeavors.
Brown is involved in several professional organizations such as the South Central Modern Language Association (SCMLA), Two Year College Association of Mississippi, the state organization of NCTE (TYCAM) which she co-chaired with Chad Moorer from 2019-2022, Two Year College Association of Southeastern Region, the regional organization of NCTE (TYCA-SE) and Mississippi Community College Creative Writing Association (MCCCWA).
Other professional accolades for Brown include The Sally M. Wilson Distinguished Educator Award, Ovid S. Vickers Excellence in Teaching Award, Mississippi Humanities Teacher of the Year Award for Holmes and an invitation to present research on Cordell Jackson rockabilly artist at the University of Mississippi Gender Studies conference.
Following Brown’s speech in Chattanooga, members of the TYCA-SE board invited her to send in a copy of the speech for publication in next fall’s professional journal. The TYCAM board also scheduled her as the keynote speaker for their upcoming conference in September.