Jewel Jones
Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Services

Rh.D., CRC Southern Illinois University
M.S. Southern Illinois University
B.A. University of Northern Iowa

In the Classroom Engaging Students — Setting High Academic Standards

Jewel Jones has long been a strong advocate for hands-on learning that has practical applications for her students in Rehabilitation Services. Students here not only document their field experiences, but also have ample opportunities to make valuable professional contacts in the fields of rehabilitation and special needs education.

Using Video to Tell Compelling Rehabilitation Stories

The use of digital, multimedia portfolios has become a growing trend in the Rehabilitation field nationwide, and Jewel has been at the forefront of this trend at the University of Maine at Farmington.

As part of a semester-long classroom project, students in Jewel’s Therapeutic Recreation course spend the semester creating and editing a video about the benefits of a leisure activity for a specific special needs population.

Jewel’s students can get very creative in producing these videos. One student produced a video showing how people with cerebral palsy can benefit from skiing. The video included interviews with experts in the field of cerebral palsy, people living with the disability, and ski industry experts from the nearby Sugarloaf resort.

Her students have also done videos on the value of hippo-therapy (horseback riding) with the help of some of the area riding stables. Other notable videos included the benefits of white water rafting for children with attention deficit disorder, photography for the elderly, and gardening for those who have mental illness. One of Jewel’s students even made a surprisingly persuasive video about how getting tattoos can be therapeutic.

Developing the Multimedia Portfolio

The recreational therapy videos become entries in each students’ digital portfolio, a multimedia package of work that includes samples of course assignments, achievement awards, and videotaped personal reflections. By their senior year, Rehabilitation Services students will have completed a wide-ranging multimedia portfolio showing their individual growth and development over their college career. The coursework and personal growth depicted is often truly remarkable.

The students’ digital portfolio has many practical applications. They may be featured on the Rehabilitation Services department’s website or presented at the University’s annual Symposium Day where students showcase their scholarly work and research. By building the multimedia portfolio, students discover a powerful technique for tracking the development of their special needs clients.

According to Jewel, prospective employers have been very positive about digital portfolios. In fact, some of the multimedia portfolios have been the deal-clincher in helping some Rehabilitation Services students to land immediate job offers.

Students Mentoring Students — A Win-Win Situation

Jewel developed another innovative program in the Rehabilitation Services program several years ago: a peer mentoring program. Each fall, Jewel handpicks juniors and seniors in the Rehabilitation Services program who then participate in a special mentor training session. Then, when the First-Year and transfer students come to meet with their professors on the first day of class, they also meet with their peer (student) mentors. The student mentors can help answer questions that students may not feel comfortable asking a professor and they also offer advice on how to succeed in the Rehabilitation Services program and at UMF in general.

Student mentors commit to the program for one year, but many develop long-term friendships and continue throughout their college career and beyond. In fact, several mentors who have graduated continue to keep in touch with their student partners, who are then inspired to become peer mentors themselves.

Jewel’s innovative peer mentoring program not only helps the students who are being mentored, but it benefits the mentors as well. The mentors develop strong interpersonal, advising, and communication skills and experience — attributes that are highly valuable when they seek their first jobs or apply for acceptance to graduate school.

Out of the Classroom and Into the Field — Getting Real World Experience

Field work and observation are extremely important in the field of Rehabilitation Services and Jewel’s students get plenty of it. Students in the program are required to do a 120-hour practicum in their junior year at facilities that focus on addiction, mental health or occupational therapy. During their senior year, Rehabilitation Services students also complete a 450-hour off-campus internship. Jewel and her faculty colleagues work to tailor internships with each students’ particular interests and areas of specialization and the age group each student prefers to work with (children, teens, adults or seniors).

UMF Rehabilitation Services interns have worked in occupational therapy offices, addiction facilities, and have served as case a managers for a mental health agency and case coordinators for children with behavioral problems. Jewel has supervised interns in regional, national and even international locations. Students have interned in special needs camps in Rhode Island, New York and Utah. One student recently completed her internship in Mexico and South America, working for a travel agency that specializes in trips for people with disabilities.

According to Jewel, the need for Rehabilitation Services graduates will continue to grow. In fact, her program can’t fill the positions fast enough and her students rarely have difficulty finding a job — they often have several job offers in-hand before leaving graduating from UMF.

Attending National Conferences: Making Professional Connections

Jewel and other faculty in the Rehabilitation Services program regularly take students to prestigious national professional conferences across the country: Pennsylvania, Arizona, California, and Texas, an opportunity usually reserved for graduate students.

In fact, University of Maine at Farmington students are often the only undergraduate students attending these national conferences. There, students learn how to write grants, present research projects, and discover how service agencies work at the state and federal level. Jewel’s students also have the unprecedented opportunity to meet with some of the leading rehabilitation researchers in the world, including the some the authors of their textbooks.

Jewel says her students come back from these conferences with knowledge, confidence and an heightened excitement about working in the field of Rehabilitation Services. They return to UMF with the self confidence that they can go out and do anything.

Her students also often return with scholarship offers from graduate schools across the country. Indeed, many UMF Rehabilitation Services students have gone on to earn their Master’s degrees, at leading graduate schools in Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.

Taking Care of Those on Campus

Jewel has been heavily involved in health-related issues on campus. She co-chaired the UMF Wellness Committee, a group that helps faculty and staff improve to stay healthy and well. Her efforts were recently rewarded when the Committee won a Gold Star Workplace Wellness award, a national distinction.

Jewel says one of her goals is to someday have a full-time wellness coordinator on campus who would help employees develop strategies to manage their time and stress levels. When she feels stressed, Jewel says she heads over to the campus Fitness & Recreation Center for a vigorous half-hour workout, which helps her return to work in a better and more productive state of mind.

Respected in the Field — Noteworthy Accomplishments

Jewel has been an advocate of the use of digital portfolios and has presented the concept at professional and educational conferences across the country. Recently she has been researching the benefits and use of virtual office hours and presented her findings at the Annual National Rehabilitation Educators conference in Los Angeles.

In addition, Jewel’s work has been published in a number of journals, including a recent piece she co-authored with UMF Assoc. Professor of Rehabilitation Karen Barrett on Community Rehabilitation Programs / Supported Employment, a practical guide for human services professionals.

Outside of Academia — Personal Interests and Activities

A Minnesota native, Jewel says she finds the Maine winters mild in comparison. She likes to stay active and enjoys snowshoeing, and alpine and Nordic skiing.