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January 22, 2008

ULM poet wins humanities award; Lincoln Parish librarian and local teacher praise his contributions

Jack Heflin's mark on Monroe and the entire state earned him the Individual Achievement in the Humanities Award.

Teachers and librarians throughout Louisiana and several of Heflin's colleagues wrote letters of endorsement for the creative writing professor and published poet at ULM.

Heflin, MFA, was nominated for the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities award by Diane Brady, a consultant for the LEH's Prime Time Family Reading Time program, a Louisiana-grown family literacy group he's worked with since 2000. In her nomination letter, she wrote:

"Jack Heflin's colleagues describe him as a 'compassionate, hard-working, warm, caring, sensitive person and an outstanding humanities scholar, accomplished poet and editor. His wide range of humanities work leaves an imprint in the Monroe area as well as the entire state, allowing for the voices of seasoned writers to be heard, but also to develop new talent in writing.'"

The co-founder and co-editor of both the ULM Press and turnrow, Heflin joined the ULM faculty in 1984. He has received LEH grants for two successful Teacher Institutes for Advanced Study at ULM, and his second institute, Young Readers Young Thinkers, used a lecture/discussion approach to introduce critical thinking skills in the elementary classroom. Based on the methodology of LEH's PRIME TIME program, this institute trains teachers to incorporate humanities in their classrooms.

Lexington Elementary School teacher and PRIME TIME program coordinator Anne Nance said: "I've been able to witness first hand his talent for bringing books to people and people to books. It's exciting to see families opening up and interacting about their feelings through the medium of books, to see how asking the right questions and being open to many answers can bring out confidence and thoughtfulness, and a willingness to listen even among a very diverse group of people ..."

Vivian McCain, director of the Lincoln Parish Library in Ruston, shared a story that supports Heflin's dedication: "I remember one time Jack was sitting down with a little boy looking through a book. Their heads were together and they were oblivious to anything else going on in the Room ... quietly talking and looking through the book. Jack relates to everyone this way."

Heflin's prestigious honor reflects the quality of ULM faculty, said Jeffrey Cass, Ph.D., College of Arts & Sciences dean.

"Jack's recent selection by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a great honor, suggesting the highest level of achievement and merit. This award also attests to the high quality of the faculty in the department of English and, more generally, in the College of Arts and Sciences. I am very proud of Jack's work, and I know he will continue to produce wonderful literature and encourage other aspiring writers and artists to the same pinnacle of success that he has reached."

LEH will present the honor to Jack during a ceremony at 12:30 p.m. March 29 at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow.

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