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USM Center for Community Engagement Announces Recipient of 2020-21 Service-Learning Award

Mon, 11/02/2020 - 10:21am | By: Christy Arrazattee

Jo Hawkins-JonesThe Center for Community Engagement (CCE) at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) recently announced the 2020-21 recipient of the Conville Service-Learning Development Award, a $2,000 grant for graduates of USM’s Faculty Fellows Seminar on service-learning to pursue service-learning initiatives.

The 2020-21 award recipient is Jo Hawkins-Jones, an assistant teaching professor in the School of Education at USM. The 2020-21 Conville Service-Learning Development Award will support iROCK Academy, which consists of monthly literacy-based mentorship workshops at Rowan Elementary, where Dr. Hawkins- Jones’ preservice teachers meet with female elementary students to discuss the pillars of iROCK – resilience, optimism, confidence, and kindness – and read books that celebrate diversity and multiculturalism.

“iROCK Academy is a wonderful model for how Southern Miss students, particularly future teachers, can connect with local schools in a way that deeply impacts both partners,” said Christy Arrazattee, CCE director. “We are glad to recognize Dr. Hawkins-Jones and her work with the Conville Award and are excited about her plans to further develop the program.”  

The goals of iROCK Academy include developing cultural competence in preservice teachers while broadening the horizons and increasing the self-confidence of at-risk female elementary students. The Conville Award will provide reading and writing materials for iROCK Academy participants in addition to funding trips to the African American Military History museum and the Hattiesburg and Sixth Street Museum District.

“I am humbled and honored to receive the Conville Service-Learning Development Award to continue iROCK Academy,” said Hawkins-Jones. “It has been amazing to watch preservice teachers’ attitudes and beliefs about teaching, service, and community engagement transform throughout this project. More, the joy that this project brings to elementary female students is overwhelming. The students love to have ‘their own person’ to talk to and read with, and this is what iROCK provides.”

The Richard L. Conville and Mozella P. Conville Center for Community Engagement Fund for Excellence provides one $2,000 grant each year to past graduates of USM’s Faculty Fellow Seminar on Service-Learning for the purpose of developing or redesigning a service-learning class, conducting or developing community-engaged or service-learning research, collaborating on an inter-collegiate service-learning initiative, advancing and promoting service-learning at USM and integration service-learning into a college or department degree plan.

The Center for Community Engagement promotes community service and service-learning on The University of Southern Mississippi campus and throughout the Hattiesburg community. To learn more about the CCE at Southern Miss, call 601.266.6467 or visit