Jones College employees honored for service 

ELLISVILLE – Forty-six Jones College faculty and staff members were recently honored for their years of service to the college. Administrators and the JC Foundation held a virtual celebration honoring employees for their service in five-year increments.

Honored for having the most service years in 2019, was Dr. Ronald Bishop for completing 30 years of teaching at Jones College. The JCJC and William Carey College alumnus earned a Master of Divinity and a Ph.D. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as an M.A. in philosophy from USM. After working in a couple of churches, Bishop pursued his life’s dream of teaching by starting his career at the Louisiana Correctional Institution in Angie, Louisiana before teaching at William Carey and USM. For more than three decades, Bishop has been teaching philosophy and religion at Jones and has served as the Social Science Division Chair for 10 years and the Dean of the Charles Pickering Honors College for three years.

“I have had the pleasure of not only teaching nearly 20,000 students in my career, but I have also had the opportunity to work closely with students as an advisor for Phi Theta Kappa and the Honors College. Also, Stephanie Green and I started the Philosophy Club at Jones and have enjoyed giving students opportunities for travel and community service,” said Bishop.

“I am happy to have had the chance to help young people learn to think more critically and discover the practical wisdom in the pages of the Bible for three decades.  Ecclesiastes says, ‘It is God’s gift to man, that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his work.’ I have been fortunate for almost 32 years to be able to eat, pay my bills, and have a job that brings me much pleasure and satisfaction. I have not enjoyed every job I have had, but teaching has been an integral part of who I am, and I do not recall ever waking up even one day during those years dreading to go to work.  Even in high school, I considered being a teacher.”

The Rainey Community native has been honored with the Lamplighter Award in 2009, the Mississippi Humanities Council’s Teacher of the Year in 2010, and the 2014 Faculty Recognition Award. In May, Bishop said he will retire from Jones College, but he will continue teaching.

“I would not retire at all, but the time comes when you have to make some prudent decisions about the future as well as make way for younger teachers to have jobs. I look forward to traveling with my wife, Debbie, and spending some extended time in different places around the country, something I cannot do if I have a real job. I plan to continue teaching people to fly at my flight school, Big Dawg Aviation, at the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport and do all I can to make some happy times for my three grandchildren. It is hard to believe my career has come and gone, but it gives me great satisfaction to think that I invested my life in the lives of my students and in the life of this great institution,” said Bishop.

Also honored were six employees for serving the college for 25 years:

Arlena Sullivan-Business instructor;  Bob Stevens-Math instructor; Jeff Keeton-Forestry instructor; Melanie Eubanks-Art instructor;  Dr. Jesse Smith-President of the College and Melinda English-Environmental Safety.

Eight JC employees were recognized for their 20 years of service: Dr. Samuel Jones-Assistant to the President;  Sandi Flynt-Business instructor; Greg Butler-Advanced Technology Center Dean; Mark Easley-Student Affairs; Johnny Worrell-Environmental Safety; Malcolm Rowzee-Transportation and Special Projects; Dusty Holifield-Business instructor and  Deborah Cooley-Practical Nursing instructor.

Celebrating 15 years of employment at JC were Julie Atwood-Instructional Affairs; LeAnne Nixon-Workforce College; Jessica Martin-Business Office Accounting; Dr. Susan Smith-Fine Arts instructor and  Benji Sessums-EMT/Paramedic instructor.

Five JC employees were recognized for their 10 years of service including Ravel Anderson-Environmental Safety; Shelby Hanna-Industrial Services; Eric Shows-Science Division Chair/instructor; Michelle Gaddy-Student Accounts; and Chris Kirtland-Baseball Coach.

After five years of employment at Jones, these 21 employees were honored for their service: Randa Carr-Grounds; Chantra Parker-Health and Human Services; Teresa McDonald-Practical Nursing; Shan Cargile-Maintenance; Steven Zugg-Welding instructor; Dr. Jennifer Bruton-Fine Arts Division Chair; Clint McMullan-Web Administrator; Dr. Lindsey Keay-Assistant Director of Bands; Tamara Parrish-Admissions Counselor; Misty Dickens-Admissions Counselor; Dr. Joel Dunlap-Choral Director; Aaron Huff-Info Technology; Luke Hammonds-Human Resources; Tracey Parker-Pharmacy Technology instructor; Deidre Maddox-Admissions Counselor; Johnathan McEwen-EMT instructor; Eric Williams-EMT instructor; Margaret Pearson-Radiology instructor; Ethan Wimberly-Welding instructor and Doug Messemore-Campus Operations.

Each honored employee was given a special item designed for each level of achievement: 5 years-small plaque; 10 years-large plaque; 15 years-clock; 20 years-small acrylic trophy; 25 years-medium acrylic trophy and 30 years-large acrylic trophy.

JC holds Pinning Ceremony for A.D. Nursing grads

ELLISVILLE – The May 2020 graduates of Jones College’s Associate Degree Nursing program received their diplomas, but they camback to get something COVID-19 guidelines did not allow in May. At a small “contactless” ceremony with class members who opted to attend, Jones College administrators and A.D. Nursing faculty welcomed 12 graduates who wanted to participate in a nursing tradition, the Pinning Ceremony. Jones College nurse graduates, Mallory Malone-Richton, Destiny Ponder-Collins, Matthew Brown-Ellisville, Allie Rae Harvey-Hattiesburg, Carter Jones-Ellisville, Nicole Keys-Collins, Mary Caitlin-Lawler-Hattiesburg, Brynden Long-Ellisville, Garrett McAdory-Lucedale, Ashton Roberts-Mt. Olive, Allyson Smith-Hattiesburg and Hannah Williamson-Sumrall also participated in the time-honored lamp lighting ceremony honoring the founder of nursing, Florence Nightingale.

Service dog becomes 1st canine member of the JC Maroon Typhoon Marching Band

ELLISVILLE – In a year that is anything but normal, the Jones College Maroon Typhoon Marching Band has welcomed its first known service dog member this fall. Laurie, the three-year-old Golden Retriever is baritone saxophone player, Sara-Beth McKellar’s service dog. The Vicksburg native was diagnosed with epilepsy as a sophomore in high school after her first seizure. McKellar was preparing to lift the barbell during a powerlifting competition when she passed out and began seizing. She started taking medication for epilepsy to try to control the seizures, but they were happening almost weekly.

“It always seemed to happen at the most inconvenient time,” said McKellar. “I fell down the bleachers and herniated a disc, and I had a seizure in the bathroom and somehow locked the door,” said McKellar. “My mom (Kiely) is a nurse and she was very relieved when we got Laurie, especially when I decided to come to Jones for college.”

Having her sister, Anna Claire on campus her freshman year helped to ease mom’s concerns. Last April, the family decided to launch a fundraising campaign to get a service dog, for additional reassurance. The day before McKellar’s birthday, the family drove to Madison, Virginia to pick up Laurie from Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers. This life-saving addition to the family has changed Sara Beth by providing her more independence.

“I’m a pretty shy person and the last thing I wanted was to draw more attention, especially after having seizures,” said McKellar.  “Having Laurie has certainly attracted more attention; however, she has also helped me to become more sociable and independent.”

McKellar is also happy to report she has been seizure-free since adopting Laurie six-months ago. There have been a couple of close calls she admits, but Laurie was there ready to help.

“I have learned to take more breaks while working on the computer,” said McKellar. “Hopefully, I will grow out of the seizures like my dad, who inspires me, too.” Sara Beth’s father is Dr. Jason McKellar, the principal for the Academy of Innovation in Vicksburg.

Also inspired by Sara Beth and Laurie, is Director of Bands at Jones College, Dr. Ben Burge. This is the first time in his 21 years of teaching that he recalls having a service dog in the marching band. Laurie is also reportedly the first canine in the Maroon Typhoon Marching Band’s history.

“I’m grateful Sara Beth has Laurie to provide that very special service. The puppy has added a lot of smiles to the band! She is adorable. However, we know we must let her work and not disturb her, but after practice, Laurie gets some love from band members,” said Burge. “We gladly welcome our first ‘marching’ service dog and Sara Beth. We are glad they are both members of the Maroon Typhoon Marching Band!”

Sara Beth said her freshman year in the Maroon Typhoon was a lot different than this year with COVID-19 and social distancing protocols. Yet, her sophomore year has been special because of Laurie.

“Thankfully, Laurie enjoys band too. She does not like Walmart!” said McKellar. “I also hope as people who are intrigued by Laurie and want to get to know her, they will also want to get to know her handler and learn how Laurie provides medical help, protection and loves her ‘person’ while continually working.”

The Maroon Typhoon Marching Band’s next performance will be Thursday, October 29, during the home football game where the Bobcats host the Wildcats of Pearl River Community College.

Jones College’s Touch of Gold performs with Maroon Typhoon

ELLISVILLE –Members of the Maroon Typhoon Marching Band, including the Touch of Gold dance team at Jones College were not able to learn their routines in August, like normal. Practices for the 10-members of the Touch of Gold dance team were all held virtually in accordance with CDC guidelines to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Despite the challenges, the team danced together on the Sim Cooley Stadium/Bobcat Football Field for the first time together in person just before the stadium filled with spectators for the first home football game.

Under the direction of long-time director and JC alumna, Lora Davis, the team will continue to expand on the show in preparation for the next home football game on Thursday, October 29, against Pearl River Community College for the annual “Cat Fight.”  Members of the Touch of Gold include Abbey Dodd-Petal; Ollia Boykin-Lucedale; Madyson Bounds-Lucedale; Annalee Dumas-Petal; Ivana Bishop-Waynesboro; Morgan Breland-Ellisville; Erin Buckley-Crystal Springs; Kenzie Drinkard-Lucedale; Caylen Burge-Richton and Karmen McNatt-Petal.