JCJC faculty and staff accomplishments honored

Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2018-03-28 14:49:59

ELLISVILLE - Sixteen Jones County Junior College faculty and staff members were recently honored for their accomplishments in the workplace over the previous year. The Employee Appreciation Awards began in 2004 with funds contributed by retired JCJC president, Dr. Ronald Whitehead, and the college’s Foundation, Inc. Finalists were selected and interviewed by the Faculty and Staff Recognition Program Selection Committee. Prior to the employee recognition program and entertaining softball game, a catfish luncheon was also sponsored by the JCJC Foundation, Inc. and the college.
“We feel it is important to show our appreciation for a job well done. Celebrating accomplishments and offering an afternoon of fun and fellowship is our way of saying ‘thank you’ for making Jones great,” said Charlie Garretson, JCJC VP of Advancement and Executive Director of the JCJC Foundation Inc.
Three individual awards were recently created to honor vital members of the Jones family. The Leadership Award for Administrative Excellence went to Jasper County Center Director, Paul Johnson. He has served JCJC as the Workforce Coordinator for 17 years and as the Director of the Jasper County Center for the last two years. The Seminary native also taught for five-years and served in the Army for almost four-years. Prior to working at JCJC, Johnson worked as a machinist for GP in Hattiesburg, a methods engineer at Vickers in Jackson, a production planner/systems manager at Mill Services & MFG in Hattiesburg and as a customer rep/repair & rebuild coordinator for Beloit Corp. in Hattiesburg. The JCJC alumnus earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering technology and his masters in technical and occupational education from USM. After receiving a $500 award, JCJC President Dr. Jesse Smith said, “It’s (the cash) a small thank you for your service in various capacities over the years.”
This award was established four years ago to honor a mid-level administrator whose commitment to the profession has stood out amongst their peers.
JCJC and its cafeteria management company honored Ray Conner with the SODEXHO Employee Award of Excellence. The Ellisville resident started as a dishwasher in the JCJC cafeteria when he was 12-years old. After nearly 10 years, he left JCJC for a job at the hospital where he worked there for about 10 years only to return to JCJC to work for Sodexho in 1981. The 59-year old Conner has been cooking meals for the last 37 years. He received a $500 cash prize as the SODEXHO Employee of the Year.
Tim Morris was selected to receive the Barbara and Gary Sauls Award for Excellence in Teaching Humanities. The Humanities Division’s faculty member exemplifies intellectual integrity in the classroom, and has encouraged independent analytical thinking skills, loves 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 Barbara Sauls is currently on the JCJC Foundation board.  Morris was awarded a $500 cash prize.
Additionally, twelve individuals from three categories of employees including faculty members, office staff and administrative support, and employees working in, maintenance, housekeeping, campus grounds and campus police were each awarded certificates of achievement. Also, each staff employee finalist was awarded a cash prize of $125 and the overall winner received an extra $500 and an acrylic plaque. Faculty finalists each received a cash prize of $250 and the overall winner received an additional $750 and an acrylic plaque.
The finalists for the faculty awards were associate degree nursing instructor, Mike Cummings; practical nursing instructor, Helena Gunnell; fine arts and piano instructor, Dr. Victoria Johnson and associate degree nursing instructor, Danielle Matthews.  Helena Gunnell was chosen for the overall JCJC Faculty of the Year Award. Gunnell has been teaching for a total of 33 years at JCJC. 
“It is an honor to be considered for recognition, however, I feel rewarded every day. I get to work with great people and I get to be inspired and challenged by my students, and sometimes I get chocolate cupcakes. I really couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Gunnell.
Since 2004, Gunnell has also managed to find time to conduct live reviews for the NCLEX-PN exam for Assessment Technologies Incorporated (ATI).  The Stringer resident has also volunteered for numerous organizations and events. Her college service list and community volunteer efforts include working at SCRMC’s Flu Shot Clinic, Special Olympics, SkillsUSA Advisor, and assisting with numerous health fairs and blood drives. Prior to her teaching career at Jones, Gunnell worked for two-years as an R.N. for the pediatrics department at Jones County Community Hospital. She switched careers in 1985 to fulfill a desire to teach.  
“I work with outstanding educators that also constantly monitor, discuss, problem-solve, and share ideas in one of the greatest live experimental laboratories there is! I cannot adequately describe the pure satisfaction of working with others who share the same passion that I have for this profession and for what we do. I’m also blessed to witness in my students, courage, hope, dignity, determination, success, heartbreak, and plain hard work every day,” said Gunnell.
Gunnell was privileged to be the keynote speaker at the Fall Faculty Convocation in 2016 because of her long-term service as a teacher at JCJC.
Another member of the JCJC faculty recognized at the luncheon was associate degree nursing instructor, Mike Cummings. For the last 20 years, Cummings has been one of the last instructors students see in their final semester of the A.D. Nursing program at Jones. 
“I believe adult learners are responsible for their own education, but in order to help them to achieve their academic, career and personal goals, I take on several roles- instructor, partner, facilitator, encourager, evaluator and mentor,” said Cummings.
He serves as the JCJC Sophomore Level Coordinator, A.D. Nursing Curriculum Committee, A.D, Nursing Advisory Council and the A.D. Nursing Activities Committee. At SCRMC, Cummings is a member of the Emergency Preparedness Committee and he works as an R.N. doing shift work on the floor where most of his clinical instruction occurs. In his spare time, Cummings supports West Jones High School’s football and soccer booster clubs, is a member of the USM Eagle Club and the Dugout Club and an active member at CrossPointe Church in Laurel.
Dr. Victoria Johnson has been teaching at Jones for the last eight years, however, she has been teaching college students for a total of 27 years. She holds a Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Oklahoma, an M.M. in Piano Performance from Bowling Green State University, and a B.A. in Music and German from Luther College. She believes teaching is an art and a skill that can be honed and perfected and she holds her students to high standards.
“I experience the rewards of teaching every day. It is such a privilege to give students the gift of playing the piano and watch them progress from being able to play nothing at all to performing music of the great composers. Seeing my students’ pride at their accomplishments, and at being able to achieve more than they imagined, is tremendously gratifying,” said Dr. Johnson.
As the Mississippi Music Teachers Association President-Elect and Conference Chair she has brought the MMTA Fall Conference to the JCJC campus three times, exposing music teachers and students from across the state to the JCJC campus and its teachers and students.  Dr. Johnson has also served in leadership roles on the Hattiesburg Music Teachers League and the Louisiana Music Teachers Association. Some of her honors include receiving the 2017 Steinway Top Teacher Award, inducted in the National Music Honor Society, Pi Kappa Lambda, and she received one of three campus-wide honors at the University of Oklahoma, Outstanding Teaching Assistant.
The final faculty nominee, Danielle Matthews has been teaching complex nursing in the associate degree nursing program for 11 years at JCJC. The Laurel resident was the 2015 recipient of the prestigious, The Educator with the Nurse’s Touch Award from ATI Nursing Education. While a student at USM, she earned the National Collegiate Nursing Award and was the Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship Recipient and she was honored as a National Dean’s List Scholar. At JCJC, she is the advisor of Alpha Delta Nu, Nursing Honor Society, she serves on the JCJC Program and Faculty Evaluation Committee, the JCJC A.D. Nursing Policy Committee, JCJC A.D. Nursing Curriculum Committee, and she is a preceptor for WCU graduate students. Her favorite role is advisor of the ADN Nursing Honor Society.
“It’s a privilege getting to know the honor students in our program who have academically excelled. Each fall, these students are involved in a recruitment project at a local high school. It’s rewarding to see students share their passion of nursing with high school seniors and to also encourage them to attend Jones,” said Matthews.  
The Office Staff and Administrative Support nominees included Jamie Williamson who has served in the Student Services Office and has recently taken on the role of Dual Enrollment Coordinator. Tina Livingston who works in campus housing, Kandie Johnson in E-Learning and Gabe Bozeman in marketing were also nominees. Each staff member received $125 with Bozeman being named the Employee of the Year. Five-hundred dollars was added to his award for receiving the honor.
In the maintenance, housekeeping, campus grounds and campus police departments, Jones County’s Mary Ann Ulmer in housekeeping earned her a spot as a finalist along with Shan Cargile for his five years in maintenance. Also nominated were groundskeeper, Opie Taylor and housekeeper, Vickie Robinson. The top award went to Vickie Robinson who has worked in housekeeping for six years. Each employee received $125 with Robinson taking home an extra $500 for earning the Employee of the Year. 


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