Valerie Bishop, Meridian Community College biology instructor and chairman of the science and wellness division, and Dunnam Shirley, MCC sophomore studying in the University Transfer Program, will be recognized at the Higher Education Appreciation Day, Working for Academic Excellence (HEADWAE) Tuesday, Feb. 26.
HEADWAE was established by legislative resolution to honor individual academic achievement and the overall contribution of the state’s public and private institutions of higher learning. One student and faculty member are selected from each of Mississippi’s 34 public and private universities and colleges and are honored at the ceremony.
Teaching is a common denominator for both Bishop and Shirley; Bishop has taught Shirley at the College, and Shirley plans to pursue a degree teaching biology.
“I have always enjoyed teaching,” Bishop said. “I was blessed to have some outstanding teachers from kindergarten to college and teaching seemed like a natural fit for me.” And because she likes to find out how things work, she melded her passion for teaching together with love for science. “I like how science puts math, reading, animals and the body all together for you,” she said.
It is rewarding to see when students understand a science concept especially when “they put the different things together and see how they relate to each other,” she said.
Bishop has worked at the College for 11 years and has garnered MCC accolades including MCCer of the Month and the Dr. Clarence Roberts Outstanding Teacher of the Year. She is also a member of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences. She holds a bachelor of science degree from Georgetown College and a master of science degree from the University of Kentucky.
She and her husband David, have a son who is an engineer and whose wife is a graduate student studying school counseling. When she’s not teaching, Bishop likes to work out, walk and read. The Bishops also have a Labradoodle named Arch.
Shirley also has a passion for education. “You could say it’s in my blood. My grandmother was an educator, my mother’s an educator, and I have two aunts who are educators,” he said.
Though he enjoys history, it’s a career in teaching science for Shirley. “I love the diversity … how everything is created for a purpose and works together in harmony,” the MCC sophomore said.
Shirley plans to transfer to Mississippi State University to pursue a biology education degree and aspires to teach biology or chemistry at the high school level. Active on campus, he is president of MCC’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter and serves as a science tutor for the College’s
Student Success Center. Shirley also finds time to serve as the announcer for the College’s soccer, basketball and baseball games. “When I get here on campus, in the morning, I don’t leave until dark,” he said. He has also garnered top grades; Shirley has 4.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale for his MCC academic work.
Shirley is the son of Terry and Cindy Shirley of Meridian; he has a sister who also attended MCC and is now studying at William Carey University.
The honorees will begin the day with a visit to the State Capitol where they will be welcomed by Gov. Phil Bryant, recognized by the Senate and the House of Representatives and given a tour of the Capitol followed by the awards luncheon.