MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (6/20/14) — Eric Jones, who most recently served as center director of the Bamberg Job Corps Center in South Carolina for four years, is the new center director of the Muhlenberg Job Corps.
Jones has more than 13 years of Job Corps experience. Prior to becoming center director at Bamberg, Jones held various senior management positions within Job Corps, including career development service director at Miami Job Corps; career development/transition program manager at Flint/Genesee Job Corps; independent living manager at Earle C. Clements; and career counselor and leadership coordinator at Excelsior Springs.
He has a master's degree in Business Management focusing on Job Corps Executive Management Programming from Minot State University in North Dakota, and a bachelor's of science degree in psychology, focusing on special education and anti-violence studies from Pittsburg State University in southeast Kansas. Jones currently is pursuing his doctorate in educational psychology at Northcentral University.
Jones said his move to Muhlenberg was motivated by "growth and development. I had been looking for a bigger center, and had been looking for an opportunity to work with Horizons Youth Services (which operates Muhlenberg)." Muhlenberg, with its current OBS of 343, is twice the size of Bamberg Job Corps, with an OBS of 173."
Jones said his leadership style emphasizes open communication and staff ownership of the program. "I encourage people to be fully functioning leaders at every level." His philosophy for students and staff is the same. "It's about growth and development for everyone. I'm passionate about lifelong learning."
His first priority at Muhlenberg is to "get to know the staff, get to know the team. The center has a great history. It was very successful in the past. I'm coming to listen, to see how I can help the center regain its high center ranking."
Jones is an enthusiastic supporter of Job Corps, not only because it is his livelihood, but also because it is a program he deeply identifies with. He describes himself as "kind of like a Job Corps student."
Jones recalls growing up with a sister who had serious medical issues, and having a limited relationship with his father and a strained relationship with his stepfather. "I know what it's like to not have what you want, to be angry, to be lost. At a certain point, you have to focus on yourself, be what you never had, try not to make the same mistakes."
A high school dropout, he earned his GED at a local community college, and then began to see that education could change his life. His focus shifted from the negatives in his life to the possibilities of what education, determination and training could do.
Jones acknowledges that the last year has been a rough one for Job Corps, and that some in Congress question the effectiveness of the program. "But what's the alternative?" he asks. "In reality Job Corps is the most successful preparatory program in the nation. These students are becoming taxpaying citizens."
He said Job Corps needs to be marketed as the "premier vocational scholarship program" with a compelling story. "We need to champion student success."
Jones is married and has three adult sons.
Jones replaces Kenny Brown, who served as Muhlenberg center director since 2009. In announcing the change on management at the center, Horizons Youth Services President Pete Calvo said of Brown, "We say farewell to a gentleman, a friend ... and a true champion of Job Corps."
Calvo praised Brown, saying "Words cannot describe the ways in which he has contributed to the success of the Muhlenberg center and Horizons Youth Services. Kenny has helped to create and maintain a center culture seldom seen in the Job Corps community. He has maintained a supportive and caring environment, and will leave an indelible mark upon all of us."Brown resigned to pursue other interests.
Information provided by Karen Robinson
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