Jackson College recognizes one of our best assets is our people. Our dedicated employees continually go above and beyond by living the mission, values and beliefs of the college. Some employees work directly with students and others more indirectly, but regardless of position, each person has an opportunity to make an impact!
- Outstanding Administrator
- Outstanding Full-Time and Adjunct Faculty
- Outstanding Support Staff
- TCS2 Award
Nominations may be submitted by any JC employee or student and will be reviewed by a committee consisting of the previous year’s winner of the Outstanding Administrator Award and 5 employees.
2019 – Todd Butler
Todd Butler serves as dean of arts and sciences for Jackson College, where he’s worked since 2010. As a dean, he observes and works with faculty to help improve curriculum and instruction. He often interacts with community partners, such as high schools and employers, to better serve our students and the community.
“I love building programs and curricula that meet the needs of the community and our students,” he said. This could include developing a new degree in agriculture, working with the Corrections Education Program or working to receive approval for the first baccalaureate degree in energy systems management in Michigan.
He spends more time in the classroom now than ever before, as observing both full- and part-time faculty is a privilege and a priority. “I look at the new faculty that have been hired over my years in this position and am very proud of the work of the search committees and of the high bar that is set for new faculty members,” he said.
Away from the College, he serves on the Lenawee County Humane Society Board.
2018 – Melissa Merkel
Melissa Merkel has worked as director of the TRIO Student Support Services program at Jackson College since 2014. TRIO provides support to qualifying students to help them reach their academic goals. In addition, she oversees the College Food Pantry and acts as a community liaison to build relationships with organizations that may be able to assist students at Jackson College. Melissa has become very involved in state, regional and national TRIO organizations to be a voice for policy change. She enjoys the opportunity to work to make a difference in the students that she works with.
2017 – Jeremy Frew
Jeremy Frew has worked for the College since 2011. In 2017 he was recognized for his work as dean of occupational education, in which he oversees all of the occupational programs, including course scheduling. He also oversaw Corporate and Continuing Education and he currently is vice president of student services. As a leader, he works to empower others and to lift barriers so all can do a better job for students.
2016 – Darrell Norris
Darrell Norris’s life was changed as a student at Jackson College. As vice president of finance, he works to ensure that future students have that same opportunity! Darrell oversees the College’s finances and the business office, managing everything from student account to payroll to payment of outside vendors, as well as government reporting. He also uses his finance skills to help in the community.
2015 – Lee Hampton
As director of multicultural affairs since 2005, Lee Hampton helps with many aspect of multicultural programming, multicultural community relations and minority student recruitment. He’s seen minority enrollment increase, student groups formed and community events such as the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrations grow. Lee enjoys connecting with students and the community. He has made presentations at the state and national levels.
2014 – Jason Valente
Jason Valente, president of the Jackson College Foundation, wants to help students find success. The Foundation and Office of Advancement comprise the fund-raising and legislative affairs arm of the College, working with donors, alumni and friends to help support student scholarships and College initiatives. Valente provides leadership over the Foundation, and the W.J. Maher Campus. He enjoys the opportunity to change students’ lives.
2013 – Nancy Miller
Nancy Miller worked at the College from 2009-2013 and was recognized for her work as executive dean of students and quality and institutional research & effectiveness. She provided oversight for student services, academic advising, financial aid, registration and records, housing, athletics, and institutional research & effectiveness efforts, such as the student ombudsman. She enjoyed the opportunities to build supportive relationships with students.
Outstanding Full-Time and Adjunct Faculty Award
Each year one full-time faculty and one adjunct faculty member at Jackson College is selected to receive an Outstanding Faculty Award. The recipients are chosen on the qualities of excellence in teaching techniques, maintaining superlative rapport with students, use of innovative and interesting approaches; and complete sense of dedication consistent with the finest traditions of Jackson College.
Outstanding Full-Time Faculty Recipients
2019 – Larry Choate
Assistant Professor Larry Choate works hard to stay current in his teaching. Choate teaches computer networking and cybersecurity courses, fields that require him to continue taking classes, do online training and readings to master these fast-changing fields. Using a hands-on approach in the classroom, he offers students a problem or challenge and then they work together to solve it. He has guided students in Collegiate Cyber Defense Competitions, with teams performing well against both four-year and two-year colleges.
2018 – Kristi Laird
Kristi Laird has brought mathematics to life for students at Jackson College for 31 years. Working with students each day is a privilege for Laird, who enjoys finding new ways to approach her subject and help students experience success. “No matter what else I do at the college, the time I spend in the classroom working directly with my students is my favorite!” she said.
For several years, she co-chaired the Achieving the Dream program, helping to implement supplemental instruction in math and shortening the developmental math sequences. Teaching in the Prison Education Initiative, seeing students start to believe in themselves and their future possibilities is very rewarding. She appreciates her colleagues in the math department and their efforts to continuously improve curriculum and pedagogy. She has served on many committees over the years, including Assessment, Curriculum, Foundation Studies, Academic Council and Department Chairs.
2017 – Diana Agy
Professor Diana Agy began teaching at Jackson College in 2006 and has taught all writing, literature and humanities courses. She created the Writing Fellows program, an advanced writing initiative. In 2017, she was named the Maher Endowed Chair for Regional History, recognizing her leadership of history projects that help students develop their research skills and learn about our local community.
2016 – Kristin Spencer
Dr. Kristin Spencer
Dr. Kristin Spencer, professor and program director, came to Jackson College in 2010 to teach and coordinate the medical assistant program. She also chairs the allied health department. In addition to teaching, she has created several programs, including health administration/insurance specialist, allied health general studies, medical office support, phlebotomy tech, EKG tech and Electronic Health Records specialist.
2015 – Ted Miller
Professor Ted Miller has taught for the College since 2002, after teaching in Japan for 14 years. He teaches several reading and freshman seminar courses, helping students better prepare for their college experience. He also chairs the Foundation Studies Department and has been active in developing the pathways initiative. Ted is a very active member of our Jackson community.
2014 – Amelia Gamel
Assistant Professor Amy Leighton Gamel began teaching part-time as an adjunct in 2001 and became full-time in 2010. She teaches college reading courses, and improving students’ reading ability is a focus of efforts. Amy has presented workshops to fellow faculty on reading across the curriculum. She is a published author, writing about how to develop college readers and retaining first-generation students.
2013 – Colleen Chadderton
Professor Colleen Chadderton joined the nursing faculty in 1982 and taught for 32 years before retiring in 2014. She taught in the Practical Nurse Certificate program, the Transition Bridge program and the Associate in Applied Science-Nursing program at the College. In the community, she was affiliated with Head Start for more than 20 years, helping to provide physicals to children.
Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Recipients
2019 – Morton Cohn
Teaching gives adjunct instructor Morton Cohn the opportunity to feel useful and to make a difference in students’ lives. An adjunct instructor for 10 years, he teaches primarily composition and literature courses but has also taught humanities, first-year seminar, political science and history. He appreciates the opportunity to reach students who, for perhaps very good reasons, were hard to reach. He continues to work to reach and relate to today’s students. He enjoys his time in the classroom and the opportunity to continue helping students.
2018 – Jean Davis
Jean Davis has taught in the medical assistant program since 2014. She enjoys helping students develop the skills needed to succeed, to develop confidence in their skills and enter the medical field. Seeing students become successful healthcare professional in the community, become Certified Medical Assistants, and even return to the classroom after graduation to tell current students all the hard work is worth it, makes the job very meaningful. She also receives the 2018 Trends in Occupational Studies Adjunct Outstanding Educator Award.
2017 – Greg Meschke
Instructor Greg Meschke has taught English and communications classes at Jackson College for 32 years. Though he’s been teaching three decades, his students continue to teach and inspire him. During his experience at the College, he’s taught under three presidents and with many faculty, all progressing the institution forward. New campus locations and new facilities continue to make each day exciting, but he says the bottom line is about what happens in class.
2016 – Cynthia Valentine
Cynthia Valentine began teaching music classes at Jackson College in 2013. She has been a public school teacher and traveled as a jazz singer, recording three CDs. After completing her bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate at The Ohio State University, she taught for 10 years in the public schools. Cynthia teaches Understanding Music and History of American Popular Music, and she makes her classes fun through activities like Jazz Jeopardy so students leave with a new appreciation for styles of music.
2015 – Mary Jo Kennedy
Mary Jo Kennedy
Mary Jo Kennedy spent 30 years as a police officer, and began teaching as an adjunct instructor in 2007. She teaches police administration, introduction to criminal justice, introduction to corrections, and crime and delinquency. She has helped to coordinate corrections training and also serves as student conduct officer. In the classroom, she enjoys seeing students learn and helping them see the world in a different light. She has written many references for students and celebrates each time one is hired.
2014 – Gedy Love
Instructor Gedy Love began her career teaching middle school students, and in her retirement is teaching college students. She has taught a variety of courses, including technical communications, developmental psychology, introduction to psychology, education and early childhood, math, basic writing courses, stress management and wellness. Knowing what students really need and can benefit from, even if it goes beyond the textbook lesson, is important. She has also served as a college dean and chief academic officer.
2013 – Patti Benson
Patti Benson began teaching business courses at Jackson College in 2000. Like the path of many of students, Patti once found herself in a job where she wasn’t happy, retail management, and decided to go back to college to do something about it. As an instructor, she taught a variety of business courses – leadership, management, human relations in business, contemporary business and more. She loves watching students achieve their goals.
Outstanding Support Staff
Nominations may be submitted by any JC employee or student. Anonymous nominations will not be considered. Nominations will be reviewed by a committee consisting of the previous year’s winner of the Outstanding Support Staff Award and 5 employees (selected by random drawing).
2019 – Shannon Fischer
Shannon Fischer helps students with their financial plans in her role as the senior student financial services representative. She has been part of the business office for 10 years and has grown in positions to serve both internal and external customers better. Fischer enjoys the opportunity to work with other staff to help them understand student financial information in order to improve overall service to students. She was also involved with bringing new payment plan software in-house rather than using a third-party vendor, which offers greater flexibility.
2018 – Amanda Janes
Amanda Janes works as the center coordinator for the LeTarte Center, Hillsdale. She began as a part-time secretary in 1996 and become a full-time employee in 1997. In her role, she works to build collaborative relationship and partnerships in Hillsdale County, recruitment in Hillsdale County, creates annual class offering for the LeTarte Center, oversees daily functions and operations and serves on various community boards. She also coordinates the Hillsdale County Early Middle College. She enjoys all she does and helping provide individuals in Hillsdale County with an educational opportunity.
2017 – Kimberly Seaburg
Kimberly Seaburg began working at Jackson College in 2001 and worked in student services for many years before going to work for the Jackson College Corrections Education Program. Kimberly is currently the Course Scheduler/Scheduling Manager. Helping students always comes first. In the community, she’s served on the Grass Lake Schools Board of Education and is Grass Lake Area Manager for Girl Scouts.
2016 – Marcie Clone
Marcie Clone began working for Jackson College in 1999, and held a few positions before joining the information technology department. She is thankful for the opportunities and training the College has provided, allowing her to grow into new positions. As administrative systems coordinator, Marcie is the go-to person for the College’s student information database system and oversees room scheduling and housing software systems. Marcie is part of the enterprise technologies team, which offers support to collegewide applications. She enjoys the opportunity to help others do their jobs.
2015 – Tina Matz
Tina Matz, workforce training coordinator, is committed to helping community business and industry meet their training needs. She began working for Jackson College in 2009, and in her role in workforce training she facilitated the Michigan New Jobs Training Program and all aspects of non-credit occupational training and continuing education. She works diligently to stay up-to-date with workforce trends and implement best practices. Tina enjoys the opportunity to be innovative in providing necessary training to local employers.
2014 – Lisa Taylor
Lisa Taylor enjoys helping others with technology needs at Jackson College. She began working at the College in 1998 and was recognized for work as core technology team leader in information technology. In this role, she managed computer and technology purchases and deployment across the College, software purchases and deployment, managing key labor resources for the help desk, servers, telephone and audio-visual systems. In the community, she’s been active with the Jackson Autism Support Network, volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, Relay for Life and Making Strides.
2013 – Monica Bouman
Monica Bouman began working at the College full-time in 2002, and previously had been a student here. In her role as supplemental instruction program supervisor, she enjoyed the opportunity to mentor today’s students as she had found mentorship as a student. In her position, she oversees recruiting, hiring, training, budget, data collection and reports for SI program. Supplemental instructors are students who have been successful in a course, and are hired to sit in and to assist other students as needed. Monica enjoys working with students and the opportunity to interact and be part of their journey.
Total Commitment to Student Success Award
Jackson College wants to recognize the many ways our employees make a positive impact on students. In keeping with the College’s Total Commitment to Student Success, the Jackson College Foundation will fund a $500 TCS2 Award and trophy to one employee making a difference in the life of a student(s). This honor will be awarded at each Convocation to the deserving recipient. Take a few minutes and honor a fellow employee for the amazing work he/she does, recognizing efforts that support student success.
A special thank you to the Jackson College Foundation for funding this award, acknowledging the amazing employees at Jackson College who are recognized for their Total Commitment to Student Success.
Winter 2020 – Sandra Phelan
Congratulations to Sandra Phelan, special events and community relations coordinator, recipient of the winter 2020 TCS2 Award! Part of her duties include coordinating the annual Dick Wendt Holiday Raffle that benefits the Harriet Myer Student Emergency Fund. She also coordinates requests for students from the fund, meets with students and forwards requests on to the Jackson College Foundation. Thank you for your Total Commitment to Student Success!
Fall 2019 – Johnny Blagg
Johnny is here for the students. Every day. It is the reason he comes in. It is clear in his approach to getting his job done. He makes sure that he knows the schedule of the gym, classroom and weight room to develop a plan for approaching his work for the day. He wants to get the building as clean as possible without being disruptive to the flow of people through our doors. He takes time to get to know our students, and makes them feel like this is their home. He stays connected with them even after they leave Jackson College. He is a big part of the student athlete experience at Jackson College and is so very appreciated.
Spring 2019 – Sara Cornell
Sara demonstrates Total Commitment to Student Success every day that she serves Jackson College. Sara spends her time meeting with students, planning the HCEMC Colloquia every week, attending committee meetings, seeking out professional development opportunities, as well as volunteering in the community. Sara has done a great job transitioning to the HCEMC advisor while maintaining her role as a Student Success Navigator. Everything Sara does to serve Jackson College is a step to ensure our students will be successful. Sara is very passionate about her students’ success and that shows in the work she does every day. Sara has taken on new roles to ensure Total Commitment to Student Success on different levels. Her work in the Early Middle College is proof that she makes a positive impact to Jackson College and the Hillsdale County Community every day.
Winter 2019 – Antoine Breedlove
Antoine Breedlove, multicultural student programming coordinator, understands that relationships are important when helping students. Exhibiting compassion and understanding, he creates an atmosphere that is safe, nurturing and unbiased, based on his own college experience. He has provided many opportunities for students, such as initiating a flag football league that involved 43 students. Students had fun and enjoyed a positive experience that taught them character, teamwork and respect for others. He has interceded for students with faculty and assisted students in completing homework. Breedlove has walked students into the Center for Student Success, navigator offices, ombudsman’s office and the Health Clinic to make it easier for them to get the services they need. When a student needed to get a prescription filled at pharmacy, he drove them to Meijer. Breedlove initiated a Barbershop Mentoring program that brings a licensed barber to campus twice a month. Students may pay $10 per haircut, but if they attend Center for Student Success for two hours or more, they receive a free haircut. In the Summer Jets program, he mentors incoming students, listening to their challenging, making sure they have food when they are hungry, even taking them to jobs off-campus when they don’t have transportation.
Fall 2018 – Darren Chase
Darren works with great dedication in Jackson College’s International Student Institute. Darren creates a welcoming atmosphere that makes students want to spend time visiting and hanging out. Darren takes a personal interest in the International students assisting them with daily tasks beyond education such as banking, grocery shopping, overcoming language barriers, health care needs and planning fun engaging activities for the students outside of the College.
Spring 2018 – Michael Coy
Michael’s commitment to his department, the Arts, Jackson College and to students has enriched the lives of JC students as well as the Jackson College community. Michael quietly goes Above and Beyond because he sees what needs to be done and just does it without fanfare or recognition. Michael demonstrated this with a Student Employee in the Theatre Department. Mentoring and guiding the student, often on his own time, to the point that she has moved on to a State University to pursue her degree in Stage Craft. For these reasons, and many others, Michael clearly demonstrates Total Commitment to Student Success.