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Pearl River instructor Dr. Eric Leatherwood named Humanities Instructor of the Year

By Alexx Kennedy

PRCC Public Relations

POPLARVILLE, MISS.  Pearl River Community College Instructor Dr. Eric Leatherwood was recently recognized as the Humanities Instructor of the Year, the Humanities Teacher Awards has announced.

“I always like the quote from high school basketball coach Tim Notke ‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,’” Leatherwood said. “Even if you are talented, maintain a solid work ethic. Even if you are not the most talented, you can strive to be the hardest worker.  There is a lot of motivation for all of us in Notke’s quote. So – always be working hard.  

“In the long run, your sweat equity will pay off for you.”

The Humanities Teacher Awards recognize the contributions of humanities faculty at each of the state’s colleges and universities in the fields of English, history, music, art and philosophy. Nominations are made by the college or university president, vice president or dean of instruction. Each award recipient is required to prepare and deliver a public lecture

Leatherwood earned his Bachelor of Science with emphasis in English and Psychology from the Houston Baptist University, Master of Arts with emphasis in English from Sam Houston State University and his Ph.D with a specialization in American Literature before 1900 and dissertation emphasis of Mark Twain and the American Circus from the University of Southern Mississippi. 

He has been employed at Pearl River for 26 years during which time he has taught a variety of classes including Developmental English, English Composition I and II, American Literature I, World Literature I and II, Film as Literature and Phi Theta Kappa Leadership Honors Forum. 

Leatherwood’s presentation for the Humanities Instructor of the Year was titled “Hidden Gems: Teaching Servant Leadership in Phi Theta Kappa’s Leadership Honors Forum at Pearl River Community College.”

The central focus of the Honors Forum course is the development of leadership skills. The class strives to provide students with the basic understanding of leadership and group dynamic theory. The class also works to assist students in developing a personal leadership policy. It encourages students to develop a moral and ethical awareness of their responsibilities of leadership while cultivating their own leadership style. 

The curriculum of the class is based on teaching leadership through classic literature, pop culture and experiential teaching. Over the years hundreds of students have had the opportunity to explore and evolve their leadership potential through this class. 

Leatherwood has represented Pearl River in a variety of publications and presentations throughout the years. The most recent was a Faculty Lecture Series for the Forrect County Center called “Imagination, Preparation, and Determination: rediscovering the Lost Art of Self reliance.”

“I’m really grateful that Dr. Wes Estey and Dr. Ted Alexander took a chance on hiring a young graduate student in 1995,” Leatherwood said. “Thanks also to Dr. (William)  Lewis and Dr. (John) Grant for allowing me to grow and evolve as an instructor during the early and mid 2000’s and as well thank you Dr. Adam Breerwood and Dr. (Martha Lou) Smith for continuing the tradition of strong support for our faculty at Pearl River Community College. For the colleagues I’ve been blessed to work with over the years, you’ve taught me how to become a better person and most especially to the students who have graced my classroom over the past 25 years, thank you so much. 

“You are really the gems of my professional life and I’m grateful for you and hold you dear.”