PRCC names Jones, Smith as new directors

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POPLARVILLE – Dr. Arlene Jones has been named director of nursing education and Gwen Smith has been appointed director of career and technical education at Pearl River Community College.
Both will begin their new duties on July 1.
Jones has taught nursing courses at PRCC since 2006, and Smith has been the college Tech Prep Coordinator since 2007.
Dr. Arlene Jones has displayed a passion for teaching and learning as a nurse educator, said Dr. William Lewis, PRCC president. She has exemplified a commitment to constantly improving her personal skills by recently completing the doctorate in nursing education. She is a competent and skilled clinician and has continued to practice her skills as a neonatal nurse on a part-time basis while teaching for our college.
The combination of the knowledge regarding the latest practices in nursing education that she has acquired in the completion of her doctoral program and her willingness to keep her clinical skills current in the hospital setting provide her with a unique set of skills for her leadership position.
Jones holds the bachelor degree in nursing from Southeastern Louisiana University and the master degree in nursing as a neonatal nurse practitioner from the University of Tennessee. She received the Doctorate in Nurse Practice with a focus on education in May from Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.
She has worked as a nurse at Southern Baptist Hospital in New Orleans and as a neonatal nurse practitioner at Lakeside Hospital in Metairie and at Northshore Regional Medical Center in Slidell. Jones taught at William Carey University in New Orleans before coming to PRCC.
I hope to bring the program forward as far as continuing to meet state and national standards, she said. Id like to see the program incorporate some distance learning.
Among her top priorities will be meeting recent directives by the Institute of Medicine and Quality and Safety Education for Nurses concerning nursing safety.
There are two national entities that have instituted safety competencies that we are going to have to start addressing, Jones said.
Jones succeeds Peggy Dease, who retired after 34 years at PRCC.
The appointments of Jones and Smith were approved by the PRCC Board of Trustees during its June 14 meeting.
Smith came to PRCC as Tech Prep Coordinator, overseeing Pearl River participation in the federally-funded program that brings high schools and colleges together in planning and providing career education.
Gwen Smith has more than a quarter of century of experience in various leadership positions related to career and technical programming, Lewis said. In her most recent position as PRCC Tech Prep coordinator, she demonstrated an outstanding ability to develop and coordinate effective and relevant programming for the high school career education personnel in our district.
She has a unique ability to develop positive and productive relationships with people and groups served by the college. Combined with her strong work ethic and commitment to success, Mrs. Smith will be a most positive and effective leader for our career-technical programs.
Smith attended Mississippi Delta Community College and earned the bachelor and master degrees from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Mississippi State University. She taught vocational agriculture at Hancock High School for four years and worked in adult education for both the Mississippi Soil and Water Conservation Commission and the MSU Extension Service.
All of my experiences relate back to hands-on instruction, she said. I believe in career-technical education through hands-on instruction. It prepared me a lot.
PRCC offers 30 career and technical programs which allow students to earn the Certificate of Proficiency or the associate degree. Smith hopes to ensure that all programs meet the credentialing standards of national organizations that regulate the specific fields.
My goal is that 100 percent of our students come away with not only a certificate or degree but with a national certification in their hands, Smith said. It a new approach.
Smith succeeds Don Welsh, who retired after 38 years at PRCC.