The Fairfield Community School District has hired Angela Jones to be the new principal at Pence Elementary School.
Jones will replace Chuck Benge, who was appointed to be the district?s curriculum director in June after former curriculum director Marci Dunlap accepted a job with the Ottumwa School District.
It should be an easy transition for Jones, who has worked in the education field for 14 years, including the past two as Fairfield?s literacy specialist for preschoolers through eighth-graders.
Jones is the youngest of three siblings raised on a farm south of Hedrick.
While her two older brothers became farmers like their dad, Jones followed in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother.
?I am a third generation teacher, so I guess it was something that I was surrounded by from a very young age,? she said. ?Both my mother and grandmother had gone to college to become teachers, and education was very important to them. I grew up helping my mom in her preschool and kindergarten rooms, so becoming an educator was something that I desired as well.?
After graduating from Pekin High School in 2000, Jones chose to study elementary education at Central College in Pella, just as her grandmother had done years earlier.
Jones?s choice was the culmination of what she calls an ?internal struggle? between her desire to teach and her desire to enter business. After taking a few courses at Central, she knew education was her calling. She was particularly drawn to special education thanks to the passion of her instructors.
?Coming out of Central, I wanted to serve students with special needs, and have had many years of doing so,? she said.
Starting a family
The year she graduated from Central College in 2004, Jones married her sweetheart Matt, who is now the associate principal at Fairfield Middle School and the high school football coach. A few years later, Jones gave birth to the couple?s first child, Madelyn, and a few years later gave birth to twins Ian and Faith. Madelyn is going into seventh grade, while the twins are going into fifth grade.
?Ian was born with Down Syndrome, and this has given us a unique perspective as parents and educators,? Jones said. ?Two things I have learned are to always think of the person first and the disability second. People with special needs are people first. Also, I always ask myself, ?What would I want for my own child???
Jones said those experiences propelled her to return to school to get a master?s degree in education leadership from Iowa State University. Before she went back for her master?s, Jones had already worked a few years in the Knoxville school system as a middle school special education teacher. She and her husband came to Fairfield in 2008, where she worked as a middle school special education teacher.
Jones worked for the Ottumwa Community School District as a special education transition coordinator for three years, before returning to teach in Fairfield two years ago. She said her experience has prepared her well to become Pence?s principal.
Wealth of experience
?My nine years in the classroom and five years in leadership opportunities have prepared me for this opportunity,? she said. ?I have been given the opportunity to work [pre-kindergarten through 12th grade] throughout the past 14 years, so I?m able to see the bigger picture of education and what we need to do.?
Jones said she and Benge have had a good working relationship, and the two have already spent many hours together during this transitory phase.
?I also have a great administrative team that have supported me in the position and will help guide me as well in the year to come.?
When they?re not busy with school, Angela and Matt enjoy watching their children in the many activities they?re involved in throughout the year. Jones said she enjoys going on walks, biking, boating and being outside in the yard.