Kathy Jones is not your average teacher. The passion and love of learning she shares with her students creates an environment that students look forward to being in each day. In her third year at Callanan and her 11th year in the Des Moines district, Jones is inspired by how far her students have come and the heights they will soar in the months ahead.
“The best part of the school for me is the students,” she says. “We see great diversity throughout the classes. It still amazes me that we can have students in our classes that the year before may have lived in a refugee camp and now they have the chance to receive quality education. We have students that want to learn and students that have daily struggles both at school and at home. To say the least, no two days are the same.”
Growing up in a large family with 12 brothers and sisters, it seemed a natural fit for Jones to work with children.
“I wanted to help make a difference in the lives of others,” she says. “I actually started out my teaching career in elementary in Kansas. I was given the opportunity to work in a middle school after I relocated to Iowa. Experience showed me how rewarding and fun working with middle school students can be. They are at a very confusing age, not really children, but not adults yet either and they need guidance to help them develop their identities. I realized that I wanted to work with this age student in order to help them with the challenges of adolescence.”
At a young age, Jones herself struggled with reading. She claims this is the reason she decided to teach language arts.
“I felt that my empathy for the struggling students that would help them achieve their goals,” she says. “Many times students will come into my class and announce that they do not read and have never finished a book. My answer is always that you will you just have to find the right book. It is great at the end of the year when those same students are proud of how many books they have finished reading.”
During winter break, Jones encourages her students to keep reading.
“I compare it to playing basketball; you don’t stop practicing during break because you could lose the skills you have developed,” she says.