Golden LEAF Scholarship Alumni Spotlight: Gennifer Jones

Name: Gennifer Jones
High School Attended: Anson County Early College
Home County: Anson
College Attended/ Years Attended: Wingate University 2013- 2016
Major: Sociology
Minors: English and Communication Studies
County of Current Residence: Anson
Employer: Anson Senior High School
Title: English Teacher
Years Working for Current Employer: 3 years

What helped you decide to live and work in a rural area?

After graduating college, I immediately knew I would return home to Anson County to give back to my community. I honestly decided to live and work in Anson County because it gave me my start. I am who I am because of my family as well as dedicated educators who poured so much into my life. Without those remarkable individuals, I don’t know where I would be. They saw potential in me that, at the time, I didn’t even see in myself. My return home is simply to inspire others that they, too, can be great in whatever they set their hearts to do!

I immediately knew I would return home to Anson County to give back to my community. I can honestly say that my experiences helped shape my decision to return home. I am a product of a rural area. I know the greatness within rural areas.

What kind of leadership roles are you serving in currently?

I currently serve in the following leadership roles:

  • Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) Team member: This line of work requires me to make decisions about the behavioral programs taking place on our school’s campus. Our work is also geared toward promoting and rewarding positive student behavior.
  • SIT (School Improvement Team) English Representative: In this role I serve as the voice for the high school’s English department. Here, I skillfully finding ways to accommodate the needs of teachers and students. I often give ideas to better our school. I also work on projects such as Summer Institute to promote the well-being of students and staff members. Last year I was able to take a lead in the planning and execution of the Summer Institute for rising freshmen. The institute was a success.
  • Professional Development (Presenter): During district-wide professional development I have lead sessions for secondary staff members. Typically, speakers for the district’s Professional Development are selected based on their expertise of the concept/skill at-hand. After my principal’s recommendation, I was able to conduct a presentation on the following topics:
    • Using Data to Drive Student Instruction
    • CIF Strategies: Classroom Talk and Writing to Learn
Where did you have your Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program internships?

In my year one internship, I served as an Infant and Preschool Teacher. In this role I served as a lead classroom teacher. I cared for infants, toddlers, and preschool age children. I was knowledgeable of the rules and regulations of caring for children under the NC law. I also provided instruction for preschool age students. I enjoyed the creativity I could express through this role. Additionally, it was great to plan with other classroom teachers.

For my year two internship, I was the Receptionist at the Anson County Board of Education. This position required me to have a general knowledge of computers, office equipment, and office practices. I was responsible for filing, fulfilling public requests, and maintaining confidentiality within the office network. I was also responsible for communicating effectively with a wide variety of groups, including students, teachers, administrators, counselors, parents, governmental agencies, and institutions of higher learning. Additionally, I was required to also have superior written and verbal communication skills as I served Anson County Schools clients

What did you learn during your internship experiences?

As an employee, I learned the expectations that employers have for workers. One that I believe stands out is the ability to be punctual. This may include arriving on time or even submitting files at the appropriate time in which they are due. The ability to show punctuality taught me that more employers will, in the long run, depend on me as a worker as well as help gain the trust of fellow colleagues. Punctuality speaks volumes as it pertains to character. I have witnessed it. It is the first impression that lasts a lifetime.

I also learned the importance of maintaining a distinguishable amount of professionalism while in the work setting. Professionalism is not just associated with one’s work ethic, it is also in the words we chose to speak, the attitude and disposition we have, and the way in which we dress. My internship equipped me with the essential skills to master professionalism.

Additionally, my internship helped me to understand the importance of giving my all. I was able to grow in so many ways through my internship. In fact, my internship turned into my career because of the level of commitment and dedication put into daily tasks. My goal everyday was to showcase my greatest skill asset. Before making others proud of me, I wanted to be proud of my work. I was determined to have my work represent me and speak for itself. This attitude allowed my employer to see the greatness I possessed. As a result, without an interview I was promised a job within my third week of my internship.

While there are so many areas I could expand upon, I will end with this one: passion. In order to live one’s best life, I learned that there must be a passion within one’s soul for the work you decide to complete every day. This is ultimately the “why” behind every move you will make. It became my “why.” From me to you, your internships should spark a passion in your hearts. It should be the reason you go in with a smile, ready to tackle the day ahead.

Challenges should not deter you but motivate you in fully functioning in your purpose. Without passion, your drive is gone. My internship experiences taught me to choose a profession that I love; subsequently, I will never have to work a day in my life.

Did your internship experiences help shape your decision to live and work in rural areas?

I can honestly say that my experiences helped shape my decision to return home. I am a product of a rural area. I know the greatness within rural areas. Even with inadequate resources, rural areas of North Carolina have beaten the odds and accomplished great things. Like those teachers who taught me from early education up until my secondary education, I want to inspire the next generation and generations for years to come. I beat the odds, I know they can to! This is my story.

What would you tell someone interested in applying for the Golden LEAF Scholarship about being a recipient?

This program will change your life. For me, this program helped me tremendously. It lightened my load financially. It also lightened the load of my family. It paved the way for me to go to a private institution without the worries of extraneous loans.

This program will provide you with a forever friend; use your coach! My coach, Ms. Sylvia Dames, became an important mentor for me. She was there every step of the way. She guided me and mentored me. When I needed her, whether talking about my internship or with personal problems, she was only a phone call away. She even made special treats (a chocolate dessert) that melted in my mouth! Ms. Sylvia continues to be a great source of inspiration for me. I talk to her on a regular basis and she still makes my dessert!

You must apply for the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program, which will help you gain tons of friends and expand your network. The Golden LEAF Scholars program will be an opportunity to gain friends that will be there for a lifetime. Think of this program as a cohort. You should connect with your cohort. I encourage you to meet new individuals, share your stories, find commonalities, and make the best of it. You will have fun, and what will be more fun than staying in a lavish hotel with your besties? Honestly, get out of your comfort zone, explore, and grow. You will not regret it.

Open your ears, let your minds absorb the pertinent information being disbursed. The Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program will challenge you in ways that will help you become a better student, worker, employee, and individual. Don’t take this opportunity lightly. The information sessions conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership should be taken seriously. The lessons you’ll learn are invaluable. Get all you can, while you can. Here you are building a foundation that will be helpful as you navigate through various internship experiences.

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