Darren Jones
Darren Jones will be the first one to tell you he has had some remarkable students. Jones teaches HVACR at Meade County Area Technology Center in Brandenburg, Ky. The course is a two-year secondary program.

The students in the class may be young, but the success many of them have achieved in the field thus far is proof that Jones is on the right track when it comes to educating future members of the industry. That is one reason why he earned an honorable mention in The News' Instructor of the Year contest.

Jones has led many of his students into successful endeavors. "Each year, we shoot for 100 percent participation in VICA," he said.

This participation has paid off. One of the seniors Jones recently taught won the regional SkillsUSA VICA contest and went on to the national level, where he placed second in the country.

His class also participated in the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI's) time capsule contest. The objective of the contest was to design a time capsule that would reflect the industry. The class submitted plans that suggested using several different types of piping and a sheet metal casing. ARI liked the design and gave Jones and his class $1,000 to produce it.

"We had money left over from ARI, and that went back into the program," said Jones. "I went to Johnstone Supply and got a deal on multimeters, so each student in the class got one."

For winning the contest, ARI also supplied free Industry Competency (ICE) Exams for the class. The students took the Residential Heating and Cooling exam, with impressive results.

"One of my seniors scored a 90 percent on the exam," Jones said.

This is far above the average score for many young people taking the ICE exam. For this accomplishment, Excellence Alliance Inc. (EAI), a contractor group based in Cincinnati, presented the student with a $2,000 scholarship to continue his education in the trades.

Another student competed in a scholarship test at the University of Northwestern Ohio, taking first place and beating out students from nine other states. Finally, Jones capped off a successful year by helping six seniors pass their EPA certification. Two achieved Universal certification.

"It has been an absolutely wonderful year for me," said Jones. "From an instructor's perspective, it just doesn't get any better than this."

Publication date: 10/27/2003