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TCC annual award winners go the extra mile during pandemic

Tidewater Community College recognized five faculty and staff members from across the college with annual special awards on Aug. 19. Two of the awardees are from Suffolk.

Selected by their peers, the honorees received their awards at TCC’s 2021 Fall Convocation.

Professor of the Year 

Kimberly Jones, 52, is the Professor of the Year as chosen by the Faculty Senate. Jones is professor of funeral service and has been teaching at the college since 2006.

Funeral Service Program Head Frank Walton credits Jones with helping students succeed in the science of funeral services. “Our students continually score well above the national average on the science segments of the national boards,” Walton said. “Kim excels at taking complex topics and applying them to the day-to-day operations of the funeral home. She is also energetic and really cares about her students and it shows in her work.”

During the pandemic, Jones kept her students learning by developing videos on YouTube, Zoom and Canvas demonstrating skeletal armatures and facial features for her Restorative Arts labs. She modeled each skill in her home and then made the videos available so students could go back and review them.

“My goal is to teach students how to think and then by empowering them with that skill, they can apply it anywhere — the sciences, economics, English and more,” Jones said.

Jones, a Chesapeake resident, is working on her doctorate in emerging infectious diseases and epidemiology through Walden University. She holds a master’s degree in life sciences and biology from University of Maryland, College Park; a bachelor’s in biology from Old Dominion University; and an Associate of Applied Science in mortuary science from the University of the District of Columbia.

“I’m humbled and honored by this award and more determined than ever to provide quality education to every student I serve,” she said.

In her free time, Jones enjoys weight training, dancing, do-it-yourself projects and spending time with family and friends. Jones has been married to her husband, Rodney, for 23 years and the couple has three adult children: Raven, Rodney Jr. and Kole.

Faculty Special Achievement

Shana Haines, associate professor of English, was honored by the Faculty Senate with the Faculty Special Achievement award for her innovative teaching and dedication to student development.

TCC students who study under Haines do not learn only about writing and literature. They study law, they apply concepts from math and science, and they develop critical thinking skills.

“My job is to help create thinkers,” she said. “It’s not to tell students what to think but how to think.”

Haines says that teaching during the pandemic was intensely stressful but also very rewarding. Her goal was to create a learning community on Zoom where classroom discussions could continue. “I was really driven to create the kind of environment where students learn best,” she said. “When you see students excited about learning, engaged and involved, that’s the best feeling.”

Haines, 51, created and hosted a free, nationwide virtual conference titled “Turning on the Light of Truth: A Teach-In for Social Justice and Racial Equality,” offering free education into some of today’s current social justice and racial inequality issues. She arranged for nationally recognized scholars to participate and facilitated the sessions.

Haines earned her bachelor’s in film studies with a minor in English at Texas Christian University, a master’s in British and American literature at Hunter College and a Juris Doctor from Boston University. She is currently a doctoral candidate focusing on American studies at the College of William & Mary.

Haines enjoys gardening and traveling. She resides in Franklin with her spouse, Jamie Haines, a TCC English instructor. The couple has two rescue dogs, Miles and Watson.

Outstanding Adjunct Faculty

Suffolk resident Petia Downey, recipient of the Outstanding Adjunct Faculty award, says she can’t believe she gets paid for doing a job she loves so much. Downey, instructor of English as a second language, learned to speak English as a child when she moved to the United States from Bulgaria.

“I remember the ESL classes I took and how that set me on track to also learn Spanish and some French,” she said.

During the pandemic, Downey, 32, became a resource for colleagues who had to quickly transition to teaching online via Zoom and Canvas. “I’d never taught online before but found that I was skilled in creating quality courses,” she said.

Downey also enjoys teaching and tutoring students in face-to-face classes on the Virginia Beach Campus.

Professional development is important to Downey, and she recently attended the International Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages conference, where she focused on reading. The information she gleaned from the conference was shared with TCC’s ESL committee and influenced book selections that will provide benefits to students for years to come.

“It’s really rewarding to see students finish their ESL classes and then continue with their programs of study,” Downey said. “I’m also grateful to know my colleagues appreciate my contributions.”

Downey holds a master’s in applied linguistics with a concentration in teaching English as a second language and a bachelor’s in Spanish.

When she is not teaching, Downey enjoys reading, watching movies and spending time with her husband, Jason, and their dog, Rex.

Support Staff Employee of the Year

Suffolk resident Nancy Jones was recognized by the college’s Classified Association for her innovative approach to lab learning during the pandemic. Jones is the lab science manager on the Portsmouth Campus.

“There are many people deserving of this award, and I’m humbled and honored to be recognized in this way,” Jones said.

Jones, 63, typically sets up labs for science students, but the transition to virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Jones to work with professors for a solution for at-home lab work. Typically, science kits for at-home labs cost students $140. Jones used everyday items, including peroxide, vinegar, food coloring, sugar and fruit, to make kits that were free of charge for students.

Jones collected and assembled all the nonperishable items for the kits in her home and even color-coded them for easy distribution at the Portsmouth Campus. When students came to campus to pick up the kits during a drive-through event, she even ensured they had the right size gloves before they left campus.

“The pandemic was difficult for everyone, and I was glad to do my part to facilitate learning,” Jones said. “It was wonderful to connect with students while being COVID-19 compliant.”

Jones also volunteered with The Community Feed at TCC at MacArthur Center and at Foodbank pop-up markets on Portsmouth Campus, where she bagged collard greens and other vegetables for students.

She served as co-chair of the Classified Association and developed virtual events to answer COVID-19 pandemic questions and facilitate the staff’s return to work.

“The college community has been a very important part of my life,” Jones said. “Six months after I started here full-time, my husband died unexpectedly. The job saved me, and the people here became my family.”

Jones enjoys gardening, quilting, reading and travel. She has rescued many cats and a few dogs and given them a home on her farm.

Wage Employee of the Year

TCC alum Daniel Owens, the reference desk assistant in the Joint-Use Library, is the Wage Employee of the Year. Owens, 42, started at TCC as a student worker in 1996 and has been a dedicated library staffer for more than 25 years.

“The atmosphere at TCC makes this a great place to work,” Owens said. “The students are my priority, and my goal is to always get them the answers and resources they need.”

The Virginia Beach resident earned an Associate of Science in computer science at TCC in 2002.

“When facing any challenge at work, Danny’s creativity and technical know-how often combine to result in a solution that is not necessarily obvious but usually works out better in the end for the patron,” said Brittany Horn, interim director of the Joint-Use Library. “Danny has an amazing, understated way of interacting with the wide variety of library users we see every day. He is requested frequently by students and public patrons returning to the library because he demonstrates knowledgeability, competence and patience.”

Owens enjoys wood burning, model cars, and his Raspberry Pi web server. In his free time, Owens spends time playing pool in the Virginia Beach Student Center.