“Being a part of the University gives me the tools and ability to give back to the community.”
When you first talk to education professor Jean Jones, you think her singular passion is about the many minority mentoring, teaching and training programs in which she is involved. Talk to her a bit more, and you think her primary passion is all about her students. Still longer, and you’re convinced that her strongest love is for her beloved city, Saginaw. Then, suddenly you realize the inner-connectedness of all of these things and that they collectively create one woman with a passion for helping kids become dedicated teachers who likewise have a driving desire to give back to their community.
Jean is not sure when she first got involved with her diversity and community work, but she remembers the “why” and the “who”: It was when a learning disabled student shared her sense of feeling isolated and not knowing where to turn. Jean related those feelings to her own sense of a disconnection when she was a student and she knew, from that moment, that her professional life would include more than the four walls of a classroom.
Since 1998, Jean has taught at SVSU and still managed to find time to be a part of the creation of a partnership with the Saginaw Public School District called the Urban Teacher Program, the development of the Grow Your Own Teacher program and YES (Young Educators Society) and the licensing of SVSU as Michigan’s only site for training teachers in the “Teacher Cadet” curriculum. The University’s Minority Mentoring program now includes 65 students and 45 active mentors. Its successes were highlighted at the National Mentoring Association’s annual conference in 2004 where Jean presented her program on how a regional university can collaborate with an urban community.