February 1992

Naomi Garrett, PhD

Educator

Naomi Garrett, PhD

Dr. Naomi Garrett has taught and nurtured students throughout the world. They refer to her as their “American Mom”. Garrett was a professor in the Department of Modern Languages at West Virginia State College from 1947-1972 and she served as foreign student advisor from 1953-1972. During this time she greatly influenced the educational process at West Virginia State College. Her foreign student program received national acclaim. Naomi Garrett’s initial love for travel and foreign affairs commenced during World War II when the US State Department requested that she go to the Caribbean Country of Haiti as a segment of the Good Neighbor policy. She was fluent in French and taught English to French speaking Haitians at Port-au Prince and St. Marc. Naomi Garrett was born in Columbia in the early 1900s. The segregated environment into which she was born did not stifle her commitment to knowledge. Her father was a foreign language teacher and her mother was a county superintendent of African-American schools. Books filled their home. Naomi Garrett graduated from the Booker T. Washington tenth grade program in 1921. She completed her high school requirements at the high school department at Benedict College in 1923. She later earned her MA from Atlanta University and Ph.D. in French from Columbia University. Prestigious fellowships from the Ford, Rosenwald and Fulbright Foundations and Columbia University permitted her to pursue doctoral and post-doctoral work in France. Her research included a study of francophone African poetry at the Bibliotheque National Paris. At this time she met and forged relationships with many French and Caribbean writers. An outstanding scholar and teacher, Dr. Garrett has received numerous awards for her teaching and service, including a Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from West Virginia State College. Her published articles and book reviews are numerous. Her professional memberships include, American Association of Teachers of French, Modern Language Association, National Association of Foreign Student Affairs and American Council on Teaching of Foreign Languages. She has attended international conferences in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. Her wisdom and advice is still sought by educators throughout the world. Her retirement from West Virginia State College after a long and distinguished career led her to assume distinguished professorships at Denison University, Rhode Island University and the College of Charleston, West Virginia. Dr. Garett travels worldwide and lives in the homes of the young people whom she has taught and guided. Her world represents a microcosm of the universe. Her brilliant knowledge of French language and culture, her love of people regardless of differences has helped her to teach other cultures are diverse, but the people are universally the same. Reflecting on her travels to more than 50 countries, Dr. Garrett proclaimed, “Traveling is my hobby. I love to see new places and learn new customs and cultures. I love, particularly, to meet different people. I always learn something new from them.”