Va. educator to take helm of Fairfield schools
With five years under her belt leading a school district in Virginia, Jones began her career teaching in Nevada after graduating from the University of Nevada at Reno, where she majored in special and elementary education.
After teaching in Nevada, Jones spent time teaching in Australia and then returned to her native Oklahoma, where she moved into administrative roles. Jones holds a master’s degree in reading from Charles Sturt University in Australia and a doctorate in leadership from Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma.
Board of Education Chairman Philip Dwyer said the questions Jones answered during the board’s interview process showed she had a clear vision for improving the schools that she leads. He called Jones “forward-thinking” and said she holds a similar attitude as the board that Fairfield is a high-performing district, but can always be better.
During the interview process, it was clear Jones did her research on Fairfield Public Schools and knew she wanted to join the district.
“We found ourselves agreeing that this was a good match,” Dwyer said.
Matt Hills, principal of George Mason High School in the Falls Church City school district, said that as a superintendent, Jones understands what schools need to be successful and looks at the individual needs of each school in a district to address them each uniquely.
“The best thing about Dr. Jones is her willingness to really get her hands dirty,” he said. “She’s someone who really has her finger on the pulse.”
Hills is in his fourth year of working under Jones, which has included his transition to his role as principal. When he took on the job, Jones helped him transition and he could count on her on a moment’s notice, Hills said.
“She’s one who is always there when you need her,” he said. “Being available is probably an understatement.”
At the Virginia school district, Jones held monthly meetings with all principals, assistant principals and other district leadership in the superintendent’s and district offices, something Hills had never experienced before.
“She is constantly at all kinds of events — sporting events, plays, concerts — it’s really quite amazing how much energy she brings to the job,” he said.
Jones knows everyone she works with, has command of budgetary issues and her thinking is ahead of the curve in technology and understanding how it can transform learning, Castillo said.
Fairfield Education Association President Bob Smoler said the FEA met with the search firm hired to find the next superintendent and felt they reflected what they heard from teachers in the search criteria.
While he has not yet met Jones, he said that from what he has read about her she seems highly qualified and he likes that Jones has elementary, middle and high school experience, as well as a background in special education and working with technology. Smoler also highlighted that Jones has taught in different parts of the country.
The Board of Education unanimously approved the appointment of Jones at their meeting on Sept. 6. The board hired executive search firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates in March to conduct the district’s superintendent search after former superintendent David Title announced his retirement in February.
Twenty-seven candidates applied for the job, six of which the board interviewed. The board brought four back for another round of interviews before selecting Jones as the final candidate.
Title joined the district in 2010 and retired on Aug. 1. Since he left, Stephen Tracy has been serving as interim superintendent. Tracy will continue in the role until Jones starts on Dec. 5. Her contract lasts through June 30, 2019.