Jennifer Clemons, as she describes it, just kind of “fell into” everything. When she was an undergraduate chemical engineering major, the energy and fuels focus path happened to fit in with her schedule nicely. Luckier still, she ended up really liking it and finding a passion!
Later when she was searching for a teaching position, a friend happened to know of an open faculty position in a sustainable energy program, and Jennifer began her teaching career. In 2011, Clemons was hired at Delaware Technical Community College (DTCC). From the very beginning, she loved the small class sizes that come with teaching at a community college, because she values getting to know her students on a more personal level.
“I know the students and their stories. I went to a large university and took physics with 200 other students,” she says, “and now I teach in a classroom where I have 16 students max, and I know everyone’s name. It’s so unlike anything that I had in my educational experience.”
“The goal of the solar program at DTCC is to place students in the workforce not just as solar installers, but as sales people, site assessors, and system designers,” she says. To achieve this goal, the program is aligned to the NABCEP technical sales exam and are the only location in Delaware that is a provider. This year, all of Jennifer’s students that took the NABCEP exam passed, and that is no small accomplishment! Furthermore, each year DTCC students perform a solar site assessment and energy audit for an existing building, emphasizing the development of these real-world practical skills. Students also help address any issues they identified during the audit, such as caulking and changing light bulbs. Last year, the property they chose was a homeless veterans’ shelter.
But at the bottom line, it’s clear that Jennifer Clemons truly cares about the students that come through the renewable energy program. She says that being a part of the students’ development is one of the most valuable parts about teaching.
“It’s great to see them grow from being young people coming to class in their jeans and sweats, and then a couple of years later they are dressed in suits and delivering professional presentations. It’s really rewarding.”