Picture-Perfect Position for Jenni Jones | Virginia Peninsula Community College

Picture-Perfect Position for Jenni Jones

July 21, 2022
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Jenni Jones (third row, left wearing glasses and black dress) taught her final group of students in the spring. They will graduate in December.

Most teachers are big on class pictures. So when Jenni Jones had an opportunity to  take a photo with her spring semester nursing students at Virginia Peninsula Community College, she made sure to do so. She had a feeling it might be her last class.

Turns out it was, as in mid-July she was named the College’s new director for Allied Health, which is part of the Public Safety, Allied Health and Human Services division. She’s going from directly helping students to directly helping the faculty.

Her new duties, she said, will include curriculum development and making sure the information is delivered to students appropriately. She also will handle administrative tasks, such as writing reports, and hiring and training staff. That will allow faculty to focus on students.

“This position really spoke to me because I could drive program success a little better from an administrator role as opposed to a full-time faculty role,” she said. “I’m really, really excited and super honored to be a part of this level at the College.”

Jones lives in Gloucester with her partner of 23 years (Brett Cahoon) and their two boxer puppies. She has been a resident of the county since 1991 and grew up there. She is familiar with all aspects of the College. She graduated from the nursing program in 2012, was named an adjunct professor in 2017 and a full-time faculty member in 2019.

“I have a passion for the program,” she said. “I feel very strongly it’s my program, and I’m dedicated to its growth and continued success.”

Paul Long, the dean of the division, said Jones’ background makes her a great fit for the position.

Jenni has engaged students, faculty, staff, and constituents at every level of the program, which provides her with a unique perspective for the program’s rich history and opportunities for future growth,” he said.

After attending Virginia Peninsula, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing in 2015, and a master’s in nursing education from Liberty University in 2018. She’s currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Liberty, and is on track to defend her dissertation in 2024.

She has been a bedside nurse, a surgical nurse, and has worked with new mothers and low-risk babies in labor and delivery. In total, she has more than a decade of experience in clinical nursing and more than five years in nursing education. Her responsibilities as an adjunct professor were with OB clinicals. Nothing compares to being present at the birth of a baby, she said, and called it a privileged to be a part of so many.

All those experiences are what led her to teaching.

“A lot of what you do in that process at the bedside is teaching,” she said. “We teach moms and dads how to take care of babies. We teach other nurses how to take care of babies and how to take care of the parents. There’s something special about teaching a nurse or a student how to be a nurse and take that passion for bedside and for patients and really see those light bulbs go off for them.”

That led her, in turn, to her new position.

“I had reached a place in the classroom where I couldn’t affect the kind of change I wanted,” she said.

By now looking at the bigger picture, she’s confident this will allow her to do so.

“I’m really excited about the things that I’ve been able to accomplish so far, and the trajectory we’re on,” she said.