JSU Professor credits humble beginnings for induction into the University of Mississippi School of Education Hall of Fame

JACKSON, Miss. – Jackson State University (JSU) Associate Professor Barbara Howard, Ed.D., has been inducted into the 7th class of the University of Mississippi School of Education (SOE) Hall of Fame. The honor recognizes Ole Miss alumni for their contributions to the field of education, and for their good deeds and services to the profession. Due to delays caused by a spike in Covid-19 cases, she and six inductees for the year 2021 were formally awarded the prestigious honor in April of 2022.

“I’m happy to learn that Dr. Howard has been recognized by the University of Mississippi as a 2021 School of Education Hall of Fame Inductee for her contributions in education,” commented Tracy Harris, Ed.D., Interim Dean of the College of Education and Human Development. “I appreciate her service to the Department of Educational Administration, Foundations and Leadership in JSU’s College of Education and Human Development.”

The New Albany native is the youngest of eight raised by a single divorced mother. Howard says her mother instilled the importance of education in her at a young age. Her mother only acquired an eighth-grade education but, she viewed her as one of the smartest women in the world.

“She wouldn’t let me quit,” explains Howard as she held back her tears. “As a teenage mom, I had my first child at the age of 16, I still graduated with honors and I was still able to go on to college. I actually wanted to come to Jackson State University when I graduated from high school and received a full academic scholarship. But, because my daughter was a baby and my mom had been diagnosed with congested heart failure and lupus, she felt it was too far for me to come and she was going to be keeping my daughter so I chose to go to Ole Miss and I’m really thankful for that.” 

Howard says that decision taught her perseverance and gave her a different perspective in life. One of her biggest inspirations was James Meredith, the first Black student to enroll and graduate from a segregated Ole Miss. Following her graduation from Tennessee State University (TSU) she wrote him a letter of appreciation for being a pioneer for future Black scholars at the University of Mississippi.

The Ole Miss SOE Hall of Fame inductee has been working as an educator for nearly three decades and has taught at every level of education. Her career began after receiving her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. Howard worked for the Tupelo Public School District where she taught behavior modification at Pierce Street Elementary. Howard furthered her education at Middle Tennessee State University earning a specialist degree in educational administration, then later earned a Ph.D. in educational administration from TSU and began teaching at Hinds Agricultural High School before starting a career at JSU in 2014.

During her first years at Jackson State, Howard worked as a program coordinator for the math and science teacher program before accepting a position as an assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies in September 2015. In 2017, she began teaching graduate students as an assistant professor in the educational leadership department. She also instructs dissertations, which has resulted in five students successfully acquiring their doctorate degree. Howard hopes this honor serves as motivation for the JSU scholars she instructs. 

“I would tell my students to persevere, always seek excellence in everything and you should earn what you get,” says Howard. “I value education and I value academic integrity and that’s what I try to instill in my students through demonstration as well as my expectations for them.”