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Staff Spotlight: Katelyn Jones
Katelyn Jones was in high school when she first thought about teaching as a profession. She started thinking about her future early, as she attempted to figure out what she wanted to do with her life. "I had a lot of appreciation for my teachers. I respected the field and what they were doing. I liked the idea of making an impact on students."
When she set her sights on teaching, Mrs. Jones took an interesting approach to her concentration. "Math wasn't my best subject. But, math is in demand and it is the subject I enjoyed the most. Most math problems have a solution. There is a process to get there. And, I like the idea of working through a problem... being able to expand your thinking to get to an answer."
So, Mrs. Jones majored in mathematics at Winthrop University, earning her bachelor's degree in three years. Then, she stayed a fourth year to get a master's in teaching degree to get certified to each teach grades six through twelve. She graduated in 2017 and began her search for a teaching position in her chosen career field. As a math teacher, Mrs. Jones had many options. But, she had very specific reasons for choosing both Franklin County Schools and The Early College High School (ECHS).
"It was a good fit. I grew up in a small county, where everyone knew each other. Franklin County seemed similar and I liked that. I also considered drive time. When it came to schools, The Early College was so different. There is nothing like that in South Carolina [where I am from]. I was interested in the model of the program and the fact the class sizes seemed so much smaller. I thought it was a good fit for me when it came to classroom management and also, a way to challenge me. Most of what we do here is not lecture-based learning. Instead, we are encouraged to have more collaborative work and student-led discussions. That is something I was not used to. The challenge of learning how to do that was appealing."
Mrs. Jones has made a big impact at The Early College High School in two years. She is responsible for teaching a tested subject area (Math 1) and Principal Erica Shoulders-Royser says her scores are phenomenal, "In her first year at ECHS, Mrs. Jones was able to attain the highest Math I scores in ECHS history. That is not a small feat. This requires so much work because you have students coming at varying ability levels throughout the entire district."
When asked what she does to achieve those types of results, Mrs. Jones points to her relationships with the students. "Relationship building is my favorite part. I like to know their story: where they come from, what motivates them. It helps me to teach. I know what pushes their buttons and they know what pushes mine. We all work together to have a common goal... I will even use their names in problems so it relates back to them and they feel ownership of it."
Her ability to connect with students may also have something to do with her personality. Mrs. Jones describes herself as someone with a good sense of humor, who likes to use sarcasm.
"I like to have fun. That makes it fun for the students. Teaching is a way for my personality to shine. I help students come out of their shells and show who they really are to me and to the class."
Besides relationship building, Mrs. Jones has a unique classroom approach. "I teach to students. I know my content and what is required of me, but I go beyond the standards. When I look back at the standards, I realize that I'm actually teaching more than I'm required to or what the standards tell me I'm supposed to teach. I believe this sets up students to do well in their next math class by learning the material early and then seeing it a second time or allows us as a class to delve deeper into a topic than we normally would have if I just followed the standards."
Right now, Mrs. Jones doesn't see herself doing anything other than teaching. She has a lot of support for Franklin County School's beginning teacher program and likes how the district is responsive to her needs. "Even when I go into Central Office, they genuinely want to know how I am doing. I also like the different professional learning community groups. I like to get to know the other teachers at other schools that teach the same content area and find out what they are doing."
Principal Shoulders-Royster says she needs Katelyn in the classroom. "I am hoping that Mrs. Jones remain and even retire at ECHS. She brings a sweet soothing spirit to our school. She is a committed and dedicated teacher that does not give up on her students. She will do whatever is necessary to forge that strong relationship with them. She is a strong advocate for her students. I am grateful to have her on the ECHS team. The students love her and find her a strong resource. She relates to all of them from the freshmen entering our building to the super seniors on their way out."