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Science Poetry

Teaching Philosophies

Gifts polymathic,
Achievements emphatic;
In classrooms, skilled tactics, as
One of the greats…
Department-leading;
In STEM fields, succeeding;
Through lab work, proceeding:
Prof. Josephine Yates.” 

The 13 April 2022 Twitter poem was a pseudo-double-dactyl celebrating chemistry professor Josephine Silone Yates.  Records differ as to the date of her birth (listed as either 1852 or 1859), and she lived until 1912.     

Gifts polymathic, /
Achievements emphatic; /
In classrooms, skilled tactics, as /
One of the greats…
   

Josephine Yates graduated with honors from Rhode Island State Normal School in 1879, ultimately earning her master’s degree from the National University of Illinois.  She taught a wide variety of courses at the Lincoln Institute in Missouri and was the first woman to be named full professor there

Her teaching responsibilities included courses in both the sciences (chemistry, botany, physiology) and the humanities (English literature).  Such multidisciplinary skills, or “gifts polymathic,” constitute considerable achievements for an outstanding teacher.    

Department-leading; /
In STEM fields, succeeding; /
Through lab work, proceeding: /
Prof. Josephine Yates. 

Professor Yates is perhaps most famous for being the first Black woman to chair a natural sciences department, thus “leading [and] succeeding” in multiple scientific fields, as well as directing both lecture and lab curricula.   

She was also a renowned poet and journalist.  Yates once wrote, regarding her teaching work: “The aim of all true education is to give to body and soul all the beauty, strength, and perfection of which they are capable, to fit the individual for complete living.”