JCJC faculty and staff accomplishments honored

Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2016-03-16 13:16:39

ELLISVILLE - Sixteen Jones County Junior College faculty and staff members were recently honored for their accomplishments in the workplace over the previous year.  The Appreciation Awards began in 2004 and focus on four individuals from four 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 selected employees, 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. Judy Baker, Associate Degree Nursing; Dianne Johnson, Business & Office Technology; Nikki Johnson, Fine Arts; Ginger Keeton, Marketing Management Technology and Terri Stringer, Health & Human Services.
 
Laurel’s Nikki Johnson was chosen for the overall award.  Johnson has been teaching at JCJC for nine years and spent two years on the coast teaching high school students.  The 1998 JCJC alumna teaches voice for music majors, voice for non-music majors, music appreciation and musical theater workshop.  She explained, as a finalist, composing a few essays and completing an interview with a panel has renewed her passion for her life's work.
 
“I landed my dream job nine years after graduating from JCJC and have worked tirelessly to continue to raise the bar for our Fine Arts Department, both academically and vocally, but specifically in Musical Theatre,” said Johnson. “During this award process I was forced to take a look at how my life impacts my students, this institution, and my community. I found so much I need to improve but I also had a moment to celebrate the successes.”  
 
Despite spending numerous hours working on the annual musical theater production, Johnson volunteers her time sharing her talents.  The Petal native has performed on various stages throughout the Pine Belt including the Laurel Little Theater, Hattiesburg Civic Light Opera, and USM. Johnson also assists local high school show choirs as a vocal coach, she critiques competition shows and performs at area churches.  The current Jones County resident helps her community by offering free voice lesson videos, free workshops and webinars about biblical history and the usage of essential oils.
  
“I was so humbled, not to mention completely shocked, to receive the Faculty Recognition Award from the JCJC Foundation. These nine years of service have afforded me the opportunity to see just how much time and effort is required to nurture and grow our beloved institution.  I pray that my service has assisted in the continued advancement and livelihood of Jones Junior College so that it may change the lives of students for centuries to come. True greatness requires much work after class is dismissed,” said Johnson.
 
Another member of the JCJC faculty being recognized was Dr. Judy Baker who has taught for nearly 14 years in the Associate Degree Nursing program.  She serves the college as an advisor and she is the founder of the new student group, Fellowship of Christian Nurses.  The Petal resident is involved in missions through her church and she sponsors a child in Nicaragua through Compassion International.  Baker is a volunteer for Comfort Care Home Health and Hospice, Hope House, and Mississippi Marrow Donor program. 
 
Dianne Johnson has been teaching for a total of 27 years with 19 years teaching business and office technology courses at JCJC.  The Jones County resident teaches mostly female students who are divorced or widowed with a family to support and need the skills to be employable.  Johnson said she is rewarded when those students achieve success in learning, become more confident, and gain the skills to make their lives better.
 
“I was so honored to be nominated and given the opportunity to be involved in the award process.  It meant a lot to me!” said Johnson, who taught four consecutive night classes to ensure her students could obtain medical terminology and insurance coding skills.
 
Johnson also found time to volunteer her time to be the committee chair for the BOT Advisory board, a member of the Jones County Parent Advisory Committee and an FBLA District competition event administrator.  She also serves as a board member for Mountain View Haven which is a ministry that provides counseling to pastors, church staff and youth in need of therapy.  Her husband Paul and she also spearheaded a community effort to provide supplies and food for the victims of Hurricane Ike in Texas.  She has served in many capacities at church from volunteer choir director to FifthQuarter meetings, DNOW weekends, youth trips and summer camps.  
 
For nearly nine years, Ginger Keeton has been teaching marketing management technology classes at Jones.  The JCJC 1994 alumna also has eight additional years teaching marketing and human resource classes in an area high school. The current Petal resident devotes her time judging academic contests, serving on various committees at JCJC and assisting with the implementation of DECA and FBLA competitions. The Covington County native said she really enjoys the long term relationships she builds with her students.
 
“I thank God for giving me the opportunity to teach marketing at this special place, and I am deeply honored to be a finalist as each day that I spend with my students and my JCJC family encourages and inspires me. The relationships that I have developed here are precious to me, and I am so blessed,” said Keeton.
 
The last faculty finalist, Terri Stringer of Jones County has been teaching at JCJC for eight years with 11 years total in the teaching profession.  As the Health Care Assistants instructor, she volunteers in numerous health related activities on and off campus, including Stop the Hunger, Christian Food Missions, Blood Drives, Special Olympics and ARC Summer camps. 
 
Humanities instructor, John Burks of Hattiesburg was selected to receive the Barbara & Gary Sauls Award for Excellence in Teaching Humanities. Burks has been teaching at JCJC for nine years. 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.  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. 
 
The Leadership Award for Administrative Excellence was established three years ago to honor a mid-level administrator whose commitment to the profession has stood out amongst their peers.  Library Director, Title IX Coordinator and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society sponsor, Julie Atwood was chosen as the recipient of this honor. The former Oak Grove resident now lives in Jones County and started working at JCJC 11 years ago.  She worked in Financial Aid and was promoted to Acquisitions Librarian in 2006. Atwood has since taken on more responsibilities, becoming the Library Director in 2012 and the Title IX Coordinator in 2015.  She has served as PTK advisor for the last seven years.  
 
“I am both honored and humbled to receive this award. I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to serve in various capacities at Jones County Junior College and I look forward to many more years here,” said Atwood.
 
A relatively new award, SODEXHO Employee Award of Excellence for 2015 for members of the cafeteria staff was bestowed upon Robert Blakely who is one of the original crew hired, almost 36 years ago.  Pat Williams, SODEXHO office manager said of the Jones County native, “Rob is one of the most dependable people here and he can do anything in this kitchen.  He is a real sweetheart too.”
 
Blakely received a plaque and a cash award for his service.
 
The Office Staff and Administrative Support nominees included Jones County residents, Sonya Davis Dykes in Student Affairs, Paula Harrison in Fine Arts, Joanna Newcomb in the Alumni and Foundation Office, and Latasha Peters in Financial Aid.  Each staff member received $125. However, Peters, who was promoted to Student Accounts recently after working in Financial Aid for 12 years, was named the Employee of the Year.  Five-hundred dollars was added to her award for receiving the honor.
 
“Receiving this award unexpectedly is a blessing.  To be chosen out of hundreds of my fellow co-workers speaks volumes,” said Peters. “I really enjoy my job because it gives me the opportunity to assist students as they work towards their education goals.”
 
In the maintenance, housekeeping, campus grounds and campus police departments, campus police officer, David Coleman of Jones County was recognized for his six years patrolling campus.  Jones County’s Mary Ann Evans’ 12 years in housekeeping earned her a spot as a finalist. Vicki Robinson was also commended for her five years in housekeeping.  The top award went to Ashley Adams who has worked in grounds keeping for three years.  

 

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