“I hope I’m giving my students a well-rounded education.”
It's surprising to many of Jean Frank's students how similar her story is to their own. Like many Virginia Peninsula students, she began her career in the military. As a Petty Officer in the Navy for six years, she served as an Aviation Structural and Hydraulic Mechanic. Upon leaving the Navy, she earned several associate degrees from Florida Community College. After 20 years of working with companies such as Northrop Grumman, and changing her career to become a Nuclear Equipment Operator, Frank suffered an injury. While recovering, Frank decided to enroll at Thomas A. Edison State College, where she earned a bachelor's degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology and a master's degree in Applied Science and Technology.
Originally from New York, Frank was asked to participate in the re-acquisition of an aviation program at Hampton University while visiting Hampton Roads. In 2009, after a year at Hampton University, she was approached about joining the adjunct faculty at Virginia Peninsula, and has been here ever since. An Assistant Professor of Industrial Technology for the past five years, she currently serves as head of the department. Frank enjoys the diversity that comes with teaching at Virginia Peninsula.
"What I love most about the community college system is that we don't just get students coming right out of high school. We get veterans here and we get people returning from the workforce that maybe want to change careers. Some people are coming back to get acclimated," she says.
Frank is a "Jean-of-all-trades" and is hands-on when teaching her courses. In Fiber Optics, students build a cable and show how it communicates from the transmitter to the receiver. In Composites, students learn about hybrid products made from a reinforcement material and resin, then use the material to create an item of their choice. Her lessons prepare students to take field certifications including CertTEC and SpaceTEC, and the Installer and Fiber Optic Technician exams.
While Frank emphasizes the importance of technical skills, she also wants students to become confident in knowing how to present themselves, how to speak about their findings and articulate the problems and solutions they encounter in their work. Frank wants her students to be professionals who know how the whole system works. She notes, "I hope I'm giving my students a well-rounded education."