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John Penrose












John F. Penrose, Professor of Chemistry and Chair of the laboratory sciences department, came to Jefferson in 1979. He has dedicated 37 of his 45 years of teaching to Jefferson Community College. Year after year he is able to find the magic in his profession. With clear passion for his students and giving them the best learning experience possible, Professor Penrose is a prime example of what makes Jefferson great.

A graduate of Le Moyne College and Fresno State College, California, John became interested in chemistry as a high school student and expanded his interest at the college level.

After earning his college degrees, John worked as a chemist in Syracuse and spent his days analyzing metal alloys. “I was on a bench and samples came in, I analyzed them and gave my results. I didn’t really like that,” says John. “I didn’t get to interact with anyone and I was pretty much on my own.” He enjoyed student teaching during his time in grad school in California, so he began looking for teaching jobs. After teaching high school for nearly a decade, he found his way to Jefferson as a fill in for a professor taking a leave of absence. When it looked like his predecessor was on his way back to JCC, it was crunch time for Penrose. “I was going to take a job up in Gouverneur teaching physics, but my colleague at the time (Joe Butler, Sr.) talked me out of it,” he said.  “He told me to stay, that it would work out. As it turns out the guy never came back and I stayed, and I am still here 37 years later.” During his tenure at Jefferson he has taught introductory, general, organic and analytical chemistry classes.

When asked what keeps him here, John smiled and replied, “I enjoy teaching and I enjoy the students. Even though I am involved in other things on campus, teaching is still the main reason I am here.”

One of the biggest challenges for an educator in a field like chemistry is keeping current. “We used to teach straight bench chemistry but now with the implementation of computers and other technology we need to learn how to use all of that before we can teach it. That keeps you busy, trying to keep on top of that and working with the most advanced technology that is available to make sure students are getting the best education.”