Arizona Middle School Principal, Dr. Jason Jones, was summoned to the school’s brand new library building on the morning of Monday, March 5, because there was some kind of a “problem.” The truth was, the still empty building was where his staff had huddled with Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Judy D. White to surprise Jones with the 2018 Riverside County Principal of the Year award.

“This is crazy. I usually have bunches to say. Now I don’t know what to say,” Dr. Jones said in response to the cheers of his staff. “It’s such a joy being here at Arizona. I love this school and I love this community. I appreciate all of you (staff). I couldn’t do it without you.”

The surprise was made even more special because the county superintendent handing him the award was Jones’ teacher when he was in middle school. The two have kept in touch ever since.

“I’ve known her since I was just a kid. To have her here to give me this award is so exciting,” Dr. Jones said.

Dr. White, noting that Jones was much shorter when he was in her middle school class, read comments from Jones’ colleagues that included how proud they were that their Alvord Unified School District middle school is an AVID National Demonstration School, and gave him credit for the school’s “robust” after-school program.

“Some people serve as principals and they are leaders, but we also want to congratulate you for making an impact on the community,” Dr. White said.

Alvord USD Board President Julie Moreno said the smiles on the faces of the school staff were proof that Jones is well-liked.

“Your staff’s happy faces and their joy means you are their leader,” Moreno said.

A resident of Beaumont, Dr. Jones has served in education for more than 15 years, and as principal at Arizona Middle School for three years. During his brief tenure as principal at Arizona Middle School, Dr. Jones has not only increased student academic performance at a rate far above the state average, but he has also improved student attendance, reduced suspensions and expulsions, enhanced after-school learning, and developed a mentorship program for at-risk students with the Riverside County District Attorney’s office.

“I have always believed in education and educational access for all. As a result of this confidence, I understand the need for leadership that calls people toward a vision of possibility and hope,” Dr. Jones wrote in his application. “I am committed to serving as one who labors daily toward equitable opportunities for all students and communities.”

The full list of categories and honorees for the 2018 Riverside County Educators of the Year is as follows:

  • School Counselor – Jodi Spoon-Sadlon, Elementary School Counselor, Murrieta Valley Unified School District (named on February 21, 2018)
  • Site Support Employee – Susan Hall, Teacher on Special Assignment, Murrieta Valley Unified School District (named on February 21, 2018)
  • Confidential Employee – Cheryl Anderson, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent, Riverside Unified School District (named on February 26, 2018)
  • Principal – Dr. Jason Jones, Principal, Arizona Middle School, Alvord Unified School District (named on March 5, 2018)
  • Certificated Administrator – Dian Martin, Director of Learning Support Services, Perris Union High School District (named on March 1, 2018)
  • Classified Employee – Lindsay Brancato, Attendance Technician, Val Verde Unified School District (named on March 1, 2018)
  • Classified Administrator of the Year – Karl Melzer, Instructional Publication Center Manager, Hemet Unified School District (named on February 15, 2018)

The Riverside County Educators of the Year are selected from the more than 36,000 educational employees in the county. The rigorous application process starts with nominations by teachers, classified employees, and school district administrators throughout the county. Applications are then submitted to the Riverside County Office of Education, where an outside selection committee selects the honorees before the county superintendent announces the honorees.

Along with the 2018 Riverside County Teachers of the Year, the Educators of the Year will be honored at the Riverside County Celebrating Educators Luncheon at the Riverside Convention Center on Tuesday, May 22.

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