Speech Professor Mike Jones is more than just a teacher. To students, he is a beloved professor, to faculty, a helpful hand and caring colleague. To Del Mar College, he is the 21st Dr. Aileen Creighton Award recipient.
“To be recognized as somebody who does that for my students and my faculty colleagues, that meant a lot.” Jones said. According to him, the award meant more than just teacher of the year. It was an award given to those who not only focus on the students, but the faculty as well. Someone who genuinely cares for the wellbeing and transformation of Del Mar College.
As two of his longtime colleagues would say, he constantly goes that extra mile.
“Mike has worn many hats here at Del Mar,” said Sarah Contreras, professor of speech communication and previous Creighton Award recipient (2007). “He’s always willing to help or teach someone anything that he knows.”
Professor of speech Lisa Campbell emphasized the importance of Jones over the years. According to Campbell, Jones isn’t just a significant staff member of the speech department, he has impacted all of Del Mar, especially during the troubling times of the pandemic.
“We would have been a lot harder off had Mike Jones not been able to help,” Campbell said.
When asked what his favorite part of teaching at Del Mar College was, Jones didn’t hesitate for a moment.
“The students,” he proudly said. “My most memorable moments would really have to be having those particular students come in who were really terrified, and just so timid they had a hard time even functioning. To see that light come on, that confidence build, it’s just incredible.”
To Jones, he’s not just teaching others, he’s teaching himself along the way.
“Really I’m their student, and we learn together,” he said.
His teaching style doesn’t standardly involve a student-to-teacher ratio, but rather a peer-to-peer level. This way, they feel empowered, which is what it’s all about, according to Jones.
After some time spent teaching at a private university, in 1999 Jones was given the opportunity to transition to a community college job, at Del Mar.
“That’s when I first started connecting with community college students and realizing the diversity, the need and the opportunities,” he said. “I said I’ll never go back to university level again. This is a level where I can make an impact.”
Jones prioritizes helping students find their voice.
“I had a student, I actually had to hold her hand to get her through her speech, that first one, and she’s now a news anchor,” Jones said, “and I just got a call this week from a parent thanking me for the transformation in her child.”
Even new students appreciate Jones’ teaching style.
“Going into this class, I expected an awkward introduction and boring conversation about how the class would go throughout the semester. Instead, he presented us with sheets of paper to form an introduction for ourselves. He then proceeded to have us participate in an exercise to get to know others around us,” said advertising/public relations major Hanah Nunn.
“I enjoy how relatable and honest he is. Public speaking is a struggle for almost everyone and he makes it clear that being nervous is normal,” she said.
According to Jones, his class means much more than just learning how to speak in public places.
“You know, this is one of those classes that you don’t just get to the end of it, get your credit and walk away. It’s a lifelong skill, and it ties into everything out there for the rest of their lives.”
Through this, Jones revealed his ultimate goal: to equip his students with enough resources to be able to pass in life.
“If I hire somebody to do a job, I expect the job to be done right, and I’m gonna do everything I can to make sure the job is done right. Give them all the resources they need, and if they don’t do the job right I’m not gonna pay them as much,” he said, comparing this to his grading style.
In Jones’ class you don’t earn the A, you start with it. You just gotta learn to keep it.