Dr. Ethel Jones
Even as a girl growing up in Sumter, S.C., Dr. Ethel Jones wanted to be a teacher.
“This was a childhood dream of mine,” said Jones, who in the fall of 2018 begins her third year at Tech. “My mother died when I was very young, and my father said, ‘You’re not going to be a teacher!? You can’t pass all those tests!” He gave a kid a challenge. And I laughed and said, “Daddy, really?! You watch me.’”
In the mid-1980s, after earning a B.S. in Family and Consumer Sciences/Home Economics Teacher Education from South Carolina State and her Master of Science in Family Environment from Iowa State, Jones was working as a county extension agent for Ohio State when it became time for her to take the National Teacher Exam.
“I called daddy and told him I was about to take this test and pass this test and then apply for a teaching job near him back home in South Carolina,” she said, laughing. “‘That’s going to be just for you, daddy.’ And that’s exactly what happened.”
“He presented me with a challenge,” Jones said, “and I took it.”
She’s taken on other challenges since, first as a teacher in the Sumter School District for nine years, then at South Carolina State in Orangeburg for nearly 20, and now at Tech.
“The relationships, working with students, is why I love it,” she said. “I take students to the nursing home once a month; our seniors (citizens) have the best stories, lots of history and storytelling. They encourage the students. Some of our students get internships with assisted living facilities. Others enjoy working with the Boys & Girls Club here. Some are involved in the early childhood education program. All these things get them off campus and give them a chance to see the real world.”
Among the students she’s helped to educate are clinical nutritionists, retail store managers and visual merchandisers, and childcare directors.
Her work has not gone unnoticed. In October she was honored as a recipient of the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) 2017 Distinguished Service Award during the 108th Annual Conference & Expo in Dallas. Recently in Atlanta, Jones was sworn in as a member of the AAFCS Board of Directors.
“That means a lot to me,” Jones said. “And it gives our program here a cutting edge. The board is where a lot of decisions are made. We’ll have insights into some things we might have missed and be on the forefront of anything that’s new or evolving.”
As a scholar, Jones has received funding from federal, non-profit, and for-profit agencies and organizations for academic and outreach programs, published in refereed journals, and engaged in presenting numerous professional presentations and professional development activities. She treasures mentoring college students and developing our next generation of leaders. In recognition of her enthusiasm and eagerness to make significant contributions across many sectors, she has received more than 40 prestigious special distinctions and awards, and served on more than 30 committees for professional and community organizations locally and nationally.