JCJC faculty and staff accomplishments honored

Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2014-12-15 10:28:14

ELLISVILLE - Sixteen Jones County Junior College faculty and staff members were recently honored for their accomplishments in the workplace. The Appreciation Awards began in 2004 and focus on four individuals from three categories of employees: faculty, office staff and administrative support, and employees working in, maintenance, housekeeping, campus grounds and campus police. Each staff employee finalist was awarded a cash prize of $125 and the overall winner received $625. Faculty finalists each received a cash prize of $250 and the overall winner received $1,000. Three individual honors were also bestowed upon the selected employees at the luncheon, including the Leadership Award for Administrative Excellence, SODEXHO Employee Award of Excellence and the Barbara and Gary Sauls Award for Excellence in Teaching Humanities.
The Faculty Recognition Program was designed and funded by the JCJC Foundation, Inc., and the college, with the luncheon sponsored by the JCJC Student Government Association, the college and the JCJC Foundation. Finalists are selected and interviewed by the Faculty and Staff Recognition Program Selection Committee. The finalists for the faculty awards were Dr. Ronnie Bishop-Social Sciences; Larry Looney, Industrial Services; Meri Ford Newell-Fine Arts; Rhonda Robertson-Science and Benji Sessums-Health and Human Services.
Dr. Bishop won the overall award in recognition of his 25 years in education at JCJC. As the division chair of the Social Sciences Department he teaches philosophy and religion classes, as well as overseeing dozens of sociology majors. Some of Dr. Bishops’ honors include being named Humanities Teacher of the Year in 2009, Jeff Meaders Check Pilot of the Year for the Mississippi Sqaudron of the Civil Air Patrol in 2010, Volunteer of the Year at South Jones Elementary School in 2009 for English tutoring and the Horizon Award for New Advisor of the Year from Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society in 1995. 
Dr. Bishop basically believes teachers are on a mission and may feel like they are in the mission fields trying to get students to learn. “In my opinion, good teachers are on a mission. They expect their students to learn. They plan for learning to happen. They take their students’ failure personally, and they make a plan for preventing that failure. I am convinced that education is life’s highest calling,” said Dr. Bishop. He added, “Teaching today requires a plan for success. Teaching is not successful if the ‘bait’ is only put out. The teacher succeeds only when the bait is taken, learning has occurred and the world is changed.”
He’s not just an advocate for being a great teacher. Dr. Bishop has a few thoughts on the importance of being a good learner as a teacher too.
“To learn continually means not only to remain current in one’s own field but to also branch out and learn just for the sake of learning. This is why I have learned to fly, have learned Spanish and I have begun to study Mississippi history since finishing my degrees. Good learners make good teachers.”
Another member of the JCJC faculty being recognized was Larry Looney, an automotive technology instructor. For sixteen years he has taught hundreds of students the ‘art’ of auto repair. He has repaired many JCJC employees’ cars while teaching students and giving them practical applications of the methods Looney teaches. He received a cash prize and a plaque for his work.
Meri Newell has been teaching at JCJC for 25 years and also serves as the assistant director of bands. She has been the voice of the Maroon Typhoon Marching Band half time show along with giving private lessons for woodwind students, teaching music appreciation classes and assisting the band director in managing the band’s performances. She has inspired many students and adults by volunteering her time with the Cancer Relay for Life program for years before she was diagnosed and is now a cancer survivor.
For 22 years, Rhonda Robertson has been teaching chemistry at Jones. She is a member of an administrative and faculty committee serving to liaise between JCJC and the polymer science program at USM, assisting students with the transition as well as providing research opportunities. Robertson has also assisted with several campus recruiting events and she has presented chemistry field career options for students. Her list of community involvement spans the gamut of teaching ESL classes through the Jones County Baptist Association to being an officer in the South Jones Show Choir and Soccer Booster Clubs. She is married to Ronnie Robertson, and they have three children.
Benji Sessums has been an EMT instructor for eight years and is now the program director. He has served on several Homecoming committees and he and his students assist with campus blood drives, Special Olympics and the Jones County School Districts’ Farmer Safety Day and teach CPR to fourth and fifth graders during that event. Sessums manages to work for two ambulance services: Emserve in Laurel and the Stone County ambulance service in Wiggins. When he’s not saving lives, he’s saving souls as the pastor of Carson Baptist Church in Jeff Davis County with his wife and two kids.  
A new award was introduced this year to a member of the JCJC cafeteria staff. The SODEXHO Employee Award of Excellence for 2014 was given to Linda Hutto who has served Board of Trustees Members to students and community members for the last 20 years. Pat Williams, SODEXHO office manager said, “Linda puts her heart in everything she does. We just love her!”
Hutto received a plaque and a cash award for her service.
The Leadership Award for Administrative Excellence was established two years ago to honor a mid-level administrator whose commitment to the profession has stood out amongst their peers. Campus Police Chief, Stan Livingston was chosen as the recipient of this honor for his fouryears as the police chief and for taking on the challenge of changing how the department operates. Livingston has basically implemented the same standards for JCJC as a city police department would enforce. Dr. Smith praised his efforts for transforming the department by going over and beyond to provide a convenient service for students.   Livingston received a plaque and a cash award.
The Office Staff and Administrative Support nominees included Tara Dupree who has worked in Admissions for 13 years at the college. Kristen Register has served nine years in the Health Clinic and has been called out on several campus emergencies utilizing her paramedic skills. For 18 years, Daphne Yeager has worked in the President’s and Business Offices and has proved to be a “vital” employee. The overall winner for the Office Staff and Administrative Support employees is Regina Poole Clark. She has worked in the Student Services and Academic Dean’s Office’s for 24 years.
In the maintenance, housekeeping, campus grounds and campus police departments, Gerald Griffin was recognized for his three years working in transportation and grounds. Stella Chapman’s 24 years in housekeeping earned her a spot as a finalist. Jeffrey Morris was also commended for his 13 years in the transportation and grounds departments. The top award went to Ravel Anderson who has worked in housekeeping for five years.
English instructor, Dr. David Lowery was honored with the Barbara and Gary Sauls Award for Excellence in Teaching Humanities. He received a $500 cash award in recognition of his abilities as a Humanities instructor who exemplifies intellectual integrity in the classroom, encourages independent analytical thinking skills, engenders a love for humanitarian pursuits and fosters a positive rapport with students. He was also recognized as the Faculty and Staff Associations’ member of the Year.
This Humanities award was initiated by JCJC alumni, Mr. & Mrs. Gary W. “Buddy” and Barbara Sauls.  Their daughter, Tracy was a 1990 JCJC graduate. Mr. Sauls was a former JCJC Board of Trustees member and Mrs. Saul is currently on the JCJC Foundation board. 


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