Faculty Spotlight: Jennifer Jacobs

A faculty member in the Arts and Humanities division at Harford Community College, Assistant Professor Jennifer Jacobs teaches developmental writing and English composition.

Jenn hadn’t considered a career in teaching until her college advisor nominated her for a graduate fellowship that required she teach English 101. The first time she stepped in front of a classroom, she knew she had found her calling. “One of life’s greatest gifts is when your job doesn’t feel like work,” she says, “and I’m grateful to feel that way about teaching.”

Jenn strives to make connections with Harford’s diverse student body, believing it is important to empathize with her students and understand their individual needs. Knowing that underprepared students often have low self-esteem, Jenn tells them, “It doesn’t matter where you start, what matters is where you finish.”

One of the keys to success in Jenn’s classroom is learning the basics, such as grammar. She employs a variety of teaching methods, including small group discussions and high-impact learning techniques, that she hopes will inspire students and help keep them engaged. For some students writing can be scary, so she tries to allay their fears: “I let them know that I am not trying to turn them into Hemingway,” she says. Jenn thinks her students would probably describe her as stern but approachable—relatable, but not easy. She aims to inspire her students to feel confident in any writing situation, whether it’s completing a classroom assignment or drafting a resume.

Jenn’s College service includes being an advisor to Rho Beta, HCC’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the International Honor society of two-year colleges. She has been involved in PTK for 10 years, the last three as lead advisor. Rho Beta has achieved the prestigious Five-Star Level, the highest level of PTK membership, for the last three years. The chapter is involved in many exciting projects, including a salon speaker series; this year’s speaker will discuss the opioid crisis. The group also participates in community service projects such as Adopt-A-Road to help keep Harford County beautiful and litter-free. For her dedication to PTK, Jenn received the Horizon Award, which is presented to advisors who have demonstrated excellent service to their chapters. Jenn has helped to foster a bridge between PTK and HCC’s Honors Program, which is intended for students who seek an enriched academic experience; because they have similar goals and interests, members of Rho Beta and Honors Program often co-sponsor events.

A dedicated faculty member, Jenn has served on a number of College committees—including the Learning Commons Building Project Committee, Arts and Humanities Division Assessment Team, Digital Communications Advisory Committee, and Learning Assessment Committee—and was the former co-chair of the Academic Policies Committee. She is one of several instructors who has helped to launch the Writing Across the Curriculum initiative to make writing a component in all classes, not just English, by enlisting faculty from different disciplines. In addition, she serves on the Safe Zone Committee, which was created to improve the campus climate and promote equity for LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) students, staff, and faculty.

Jenn is a member of several professional organizations, including the Modern Language Association, Community College Humanities Association, NOSS-MD (National Organization of Student Success- Maryland Chapter), and NADE (National Association of Developmental Education). Her activities with NOSS-MD and NADE enrich the campus and her colleagues as she shares best practices in developmental education, active learning, and student success initiatives.

Jenn has been teaching for more than 21 years, the last 15 at Harford. She earned a BA from Franklin Pierce College (New Hampshire) and an MA from Pittsburg State University (Kansas).

Jenn believes in giving back to the community. The wife of a retired Marine, she volunteers with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), helping veterans find professional success by providing career counseling and resume writing services. An animal lover, she also serves as a foster parent to kittens with the Chesapeake Feline Association (and even worked her way through grad school as a vet tech).

In her spare time, Jenn loves to travel and enjoys kayaking, skiing, and hiking.

Jenn’s enthusiasm, exceptional dedication to her students, and contributions to the College are an inspiration to the entire campus community.