Branscum to be Named University Educator of the Year

Dr. Shelba Branscum, associate professor of human environmental studies at Southeast Missouri State University, has been named the 2004 University Educator of the Year by the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce.

The award will be presented May 6 at the annual Educator of the Year dinner and awards presentation at the Drury Lodge.

Branscum said she was “thrilled” to learn she would receive the award.

“It justifies the time, effort and devotion you put into your work. To have folks notice that is icing on the cake,” she said. “It validates your work in a professional way, and that is always special.”

Branscum came to Southeast in 1974 as an instructor of home economics. She was promoted to assistant professor in 1983 and to associate professor in 1988. She currently serves as administrative director of Educare, director of the Hoover Eldercare Center, faculty supervisor of the University Child Enrichment Center, University coordinator of Early Head Start and University supervisor of the Horizon Enrichment Center. She is an expert in gerontology and family studies.

Branscum will be honored May 6 along with four other educators, including Teresa “Teri” Jones of Clippard Elementary School, Rich Payne of the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center, Barbara Randolph of Central Junior High School and Rhonda Young of Cape Christian School.

Branscum holds a bachelor of science degree and a master of science degree, both from Oklahoma State University, and a doctor of philosophy degree from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. She has done post-doctoral work at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

During her tenure at Southeast, she has successfully written 173 grants, acquiring millions of dollars for a number of senior and early childhood initiatives. She has given dozens of keynote addresses, including, “Someone Needs to do Something About the Energizer Bunny: Community Activism” at the Community Caring Council Regional Partnership Conference and “Excellence is Not a Four Letter Word” at the Early Childhood Education Conference in Warrensburg, Mo. She has made numerous professional presentations at conferences, and her work has been published in a number of places. She currently has a work in progress titled “Creating a Responsive Environment Through Global Observation” scheduled to be published by Oxford Publishers in the Journal of Early Education and Family Review.

Branscum has been extremely active in the community, serving as a grant consultant for SADI and First Call for Help. She has served on the Horizon Enrichment Center Board, the Southeast Missouri Training Consortium Board, the United Way Directors Council, the Hoover Center Advisory Board, the Early Head Start Community Service Committee, the State OPEN Committee (Early Childhood Professional Development), the Missouri Department of Health Childcare Advisory Committee, Missouri STEPS Statewide Special Education Transition Team, Caring Communities Service Provider Board, Southeast Missouri Training Consortium Board, the University Child Enrichment Center Board and Community Caring Council. She has served as interim director of Caring Communities of Cape Girardeau and as chair of the Community Caring Council Board of Directors and the Cape Senior Citizens Services Fund Board. 

She has served on the board of directors of SEMO Manic-Depression Association, and been director of the Center for Aging and Gerontology Studies and president of Cape County Teen Pregnancy and Responsibility Network and Missouri Home Economics Association/District C.

Branscum has been president of the Missouri Association of Education of Young Children and has served on the Missouri Governor’s Council Advisory Commission on Aging.

She has been recognized widely for her contributions. She has won the Saint Francis Medical Center Service Recognition for the Senior Alive Program. She was nominated in 2002 by Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, for the National Community Service Award and, in 1998, was named Missouri representative to the Healthy Care America Summit. She has won the Vision 2000 Award of Distinction for Developing Early Childhood Education Programs, the Missouri Association of Community Service Task Force Outstanding Work in Community Partnership Award and the Mary Kasten Community Service Award. She has received both the Outstanding Service Award and the Outstanding Teacher Award from Southeast’s College of Health and Human Services.

She is a member of Phi Kappa Phi graduate education honorary, Kappa Delta Gamma education honorary, Kappa Omicron Phi home economics honorary, Post Doctoral Academy of Higher Education honorary, and Sigma Phi Omega gerontology honorary.