By Julia Skeval and August Kissel
Everyone knows the superintendent of the Jamesville-Dewitt School District is Dr. Alice Kendrick, but many don’t know that a person behind the curtain who helps to keep the district running is Assistant Superintendent Joy Jones. Unfortunately, people won’t have the chance anymore, because she is retiring. She will be exiting the stage for the last time at the end of the 2012-13 school year.
Even though students may not notice, Ms. Jones will be missed by Dr. Kendrick because “she is one of the most confident administrators I have ever had the pleasure to work with.” “She can be counted on to do her entire job effectively, while having a great personality and being a wonderful people person,” said Dr. Kendrick. However, Dr. Kendrick is not the only one who will miss her. “I will miss her openness and kindness,” said J-D High School Principal Paul Gasparini. J-D Middle School Principal Peter Smith will miss her because “ I learned a great deal from Ms. Jones and I am grateful to have had her as a mentor.” Mr. Smith will be replacing Ms. Jones when she leaves.
Even though her colleagues describe her as confident, Ms. Jones doesn’t think of herself quite like that. “I think I am quiet and reflective,” said Ms. Jones. However, she also describes herself as light-hearted and good-humored; “I have that determined inner strength that makes me a positive person.” Though Ms. Jones thinks she is a quiet person, her favorite color is not subtle. “My favorite color is turquoise, because it is bright and cheerful,” much like how others would describe her personality.
After Ms. Jones retires, Mr. Smith will have big shoes to fill. Part of Ms. Jones’s job is to help the teachers get properly certified and help them get the programs and supplies they need to help the students. By doing this well for 13 years, she shows that “she is dedicated to the success of the students at J-D,” said Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith needs not only to be as effective as Ms. Jones, but also have time to listen and be open with the staff. One thing Mr. Gasparini will miss is being able to express ideas to Ms. Jones. “I will miss her openness and kindness, she thinks through the problems and you can work with her through them,” said Mr. Gasparini.
Ms. Jones also has her own thoughts on what impact she has made at J-DSD. “ I see my role as assistant superintendent to support the administrators in the work that they do and in the programs that they bring and jobs that they do,” said Ms. Jones. Another part of Ms. Jones’s job is to interview, hire and observe new teachers; “I am very proud of the impact I have made while doing teachers evaluations,” Through the teacher evaluation, Ms Jones feels she was able to “bring high quality candidates to interview and hire very high quality teachers.”
Ms. Jones has not only made an impression but as been impressed with many things at J-D. “I was amazed by the high quality teachers we have here and have been able to hire,” said Ms. Jones. She is also impressed with amount of parent support and work the School Board of Education does for the students; Ms. Jones has enjoyed the many years she has worked in the district. “I like how we have high expectations, a high quality staff, and great parent involvement,” said Ms. Jones, “We are all a great team, and have the common goal of helping the students, this really equals great success for everyone.”
In September of 2000, Ms. Jones accepted the job as Pupil Personnel Services Director of the Jamesville-DeWitt District. She was in charge of the Special Education Department and worked hand-in-hand with the principals (of the different schools) to create the best special education program possible. Then in 2006, Ms. Jones became assistant superintendent for educational services. Before that, Ms. Jones worked at Carthage Central Schools for 23 years, as a high school guidance counselor, and later in an administrative position.
In order to do her job, Ms. Jones needed a solid education. She started her undergraduate degree at SUNY of Cortland. Ms. Jones majored in elementary education, and minored in secondary French education. “I was very fortunate, and I got the chance to study abroad in the French part of Switzerland,” said Ms. Jones. She also had the chance to go back a second time, “where I taught English in a private girls school for about a year.” When Ms. Jones arrived back in the United States, she began the hunt for jobs. “At the time, there were not a lot of jobs in education, so I worked for Air France in New York City,” said Ms. Jones
After about two years, Ms. Jones realized she wanted to get back into education. She enrolled in a program at the University of Scranton for a masters degree in school counseling. From there, Ms. Jones got the job as a counselor in Carthage, but “I had to continue my education to receive a certificate to be a guidance counselor in New York State.” Ms. Jones enrolled in numerous other programs to receive her second masters degree in school administration. “After all this, I became certified as a school administrator, and that’s how I became Pupil Services Director at Carthage.”
As for the future of education, Ms. Jones discussed the many mandates from the Federal government to the states about schooling with the Common Core System. The Common Core System was made so every state in the country is teaching the same curriculum. “This is the new thing in education, but just because new things come along doesn’t mean we have to get rid of the old methods in the future,” said Ms. Jones who believes the older methods of teaching were fine. However, Ms. Jones thinks there have been good changes in education; “I do think that the Common Core System has been a good change, but we have strong students and we want to keep the focus on them, while still focusing on adding and adopting what’s new.”
For students who want to become teachers, Ms. Jones has some advice. “It is important to do your homework, to see the availability of teaching jobs.” Students need to do their research to see if there are enough positions in the field they are interested in for the amount of people with that degree and applying for jobs. “Its all about supply and demand,” said Ms. Jones.
Ms. Jones would also like to give the students some things to reflect on when she leaves. “I want the student to know how very fortunate they are,” she said. Ms. Jones said that not all schools are like J-D, because “we have such dedicated teachers, that we take for granted, but we are are so very lucky and fortunate.”
As to what she will do after retirement, Ms. Jones said “I really want to travel, and I am planning to take a trip to Hawaii in the fall.” Ms. Jones also wants to spend more time with family, and have more time to do leisure activities, read, and exercise. Ms. Jones’s other interests include sewing, and cooking. Ms. Jones also has a love for the French language; “I was once certified to teach French, and I would love to get my fluency back.” Ms Jones said she also wants to get her fluency back because she has friends who speak French and she would love to converse better with them.