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Alma Primary School Teacher of the Year: Kathy Jones 7/4/21

Headline: Jones finds her niche


Alma Primary School Teacher of the Year


By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 


Kathy Jones goes to work every day with a smile on her face. Only, to those around her, Alma Primary School isn’t necessarily work. 


“I can’t imagine doing anything besides teaching,” Jones said. “I have always loved kids and sports, so coaching and  teaching was always in my future.”


Two years after giving up the reins of the Alma volleyball program, Jones was named Alma Primary School Teacher of the Year. The prestigious honor caught her off guard. 


“When I found out I had been nominated it was such a grateful feeling,” Jones said. “This being my first year at APS, I was just trying to learn the ropes and find out where I would fit into our wonderful staff (and) school family.”


The transition from Alma High School to Alma Primary School didn’t take long. Her 12th year of education (her first as a PE teacher) was made easy thanks to her co-workers. 


“From the first day I joined this group of amazing educators, I felt as if this is exactly where I belong and love the people I work with,” Jones said. “This is such an awesome place to spend every day. As I've told many people this year, this is my place, and these are my people!”


As the world began to pick up the pieces following the COVID-19 shutdown, Jones had no idea what to expect — or if they would even be allowed to participate in the simplest of exercises. 


Once things began to settle down, Jones went all in. 


“This year I have really felt like I was teaching kids things they can use their whole lives,” Jones said. “Whether it be jumping rope, fundamentals of running or how to be a team player, these students have really enjoyed learning and playing in my class and it's been incredibly rewarding.”


There are no off days as a primary school physical education teacher. Jones had seven classes, each 40 minutes long, where opened-eyed, smiling students couldn’t wait to get active. 


“Everyday is different and never dull. I start each day greeting students at the front door,” Jones said. “I loved that each class had a personality of their own and each one was special in different ways. Every class consisted of warmups, exercises and our lesson/activity. Some of my favorite lessons/units from this year were jump roping, volleyball, rock climbing, track and field, and teamwork games (we did a lot of them).”


The affable Jones also helped with parent pick-up, which further helped her connect to her students. 


“It was a great opportunity to hear about how their day went and get to know them outside of class,” Jones said.


A native of Long Beach, Calif., Jones was a volleyball standout at Millikan High School before finishing college at Henderson State, Jones earned a Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Arkansas. 


Three years ago, Jones replaced longtime Alma volleyball coach Tiffany Drinkwitz. With three small children, however, she soon opted out to spend more time with husband Zach and the couple’s three children. 


“Getting out of coaching was easy and hard at the same time,” she said. “It was easy knowing I was going to get so much more time with my family. But I love those volleyball and track athletes like they are part of my family. What I miss the most about coaching are the relationships with my former athletes. But this year I had the opportunity to not only meet many new awesome little athletes (every single APS student), but every day I have also gotten to drive to and from school with two of my own kids and gotten to be their PE teacher.


“It's been such a cool experience.”


The students at APS latched on to Jones, too. 


“I absolutely love my APS students,” she said. “I have never in my 35 years of life had as many hugs as I have gotten this year and I love it. They make me feel so special every day, and my goal is for them to feel loved as well.”