Edwards named Educator of the Year by Lansing NAACP

November 1, 2023

For the second straight year, a Michigan State University Spartan has been named the Educator of the Year by the Lansing branch of the NAACP.

University Distinguished Professor Patricia Edwards received the honor formally in October 2023.

Patricia Edwards headshot

The annual award recognizes individuals and organizations who help promote the NAACP’s mission.

“When the committee looked through the list of candidates, it became clear that we should recognize Dr. Edwards as this year’s recipient,” said Harold A. Pope, the president of the Lansing branch of the NAACP. “Her qualifications and work in the community were key in setting her apart. She is a vital part of our community through all her contributions. [She is] truly deserving of this recognition.”

Edwards is an internationally recognized scholar of literacy. She was named an MSU Distinguished Professor in 2023, one of the highest honors for faculty at the university.  In 2022, she was selected to be featured in The HistoryMakers, a digital repository of the Black experience in the U.S.  Other distinguished accolades include being named the first African American president of the then-named National Reading Conference (2006), the president of the International Reading Association (2010), and becoming the first-ever African American winner of the Oscar S. Causey Award from the Literacy Research Association (2020).

“As a child growing up in the Deep South, the NAACP served as a beacon of hope, an educational resource, a symbol of community support and an inspiration to fight for justice and equality in a challenging and discriminatory environment,” said Edwards. “The early acquaintances I had with the NAACP led me to become an educator.”

Edwards joined the MSU College of Education in 1989 and was promoted to full professor in 1994. Her work centers on supporting literacy learning and development for families of color, with particular attention to the roles of parents in children’s literacy development.  

“The Educator of the Year Award is yet another distinction in Patricia Edwards’ career, recognizing her as a trailblazing scholar and leader,” said Dean Jerlando F. L. Jackson. “This award celebrates her lifetime commitment toward improving education and literacy for others. We are incredibly proud to count her among our Spartan scholars.”

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In 2022, the Lansing branch of the NAACP named Professor Dorinda Carter Andrews as the Educator of the Year. Read her story.