Social studies teacher awarded by MEA for classroom work
June 4, 2012 • Devon Perrine, Staff Writer
Filed under News
On Friday, April 27 Howell High School social studies teacher, Mr. Jay McDowell, was awarded the Herman W. Coleman Human Rights Award from Michigan Education Association at a spring banquet. The ceremony was held at the Michigan Education Association’s annual conference in Lansing.
Fellow teacher, Mr. Gregory Talberg, noticed how Mr. McDowell institutes cultural studies into his curriculum and decided to tell the Michigan Education Association about Mr. McDowell’s creative approach to teaching social studies. The Michigan Education Association liked what Mr. Talberg told them and decided to visit Mr. McDowell’s classroom.
Some students say learning about social studies is difficult and hard to understand. However, Mr. McDowell argues differently. Mr. McDowell teaches World Religions, Philosophy, Sociology and Economics. He brings a lot of different perspectives to the students, whether it’s from the eyes of a philosopher in Philosophy class, or the views of a culture and their religion, in World Religions.
“Bringing multicultural ideas to Howell is important.” Mr. McDowell reflects. “I think social studies is important to help a student reflect upon their own culture.”
On Friday, April 20the Michigan Education Association came to Howell High School to observe Mr. McDowell present a lesson on ethics to his Philosophy class.
Members of the MEA videotaped Mr. McDowell and his students debate an ethics question in his 5th hour Philosophy class. After seeing his display of enlightening the class on a moral issue, the Michigan Education Association privately interviewed Mr. McDowell after the Philosophy class was over.
“It was a great recognition of my desire to bring multiculturalism to education,” McDowell mentions. “It’s a burning desire to [let students] understand an unclear world.”
Mr. McDowell says, in addition to looking nice on a resume, this award is an accomplishment to him and the Howell community, because it brings a more cultural and diverse way of thinking and acting to a very unique city. He believes that the social studies program here in Howell is a very good program in itself; it allows students to acquire the tools that are needed to fully understand and fulfill a successful life. Social studies, in Mr. McDowell’s eyes, does not just revisit past events but better help and prepare future generations.
“He really deserved [the award],” Mr. Talberg said. “Mr. McDowell was willing to stand up for his beliefs in order to help other people,” He explained.