Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat


September 20, 2011

Retirement not enough for Paoli teacher

Noteworthy Neighbor

Paoli, OK — Retirement can often be a reward many in the workforce use as a way to compliment a career well spent, though for some staying retired may not bring as much satisfaction.

This is such a case for Paoli teacher Rebecca Jones, who came out of retirement not only to fulfill a dream of teaching in a more personal setting, but is also something closer to where she’s lived most of her life. Most would be more than satisfied after 31 years of service in any field, but it may just be another chapter of her journey in education.

“It was kind of ideal, what I’d always wanted to do... work in a small school,” said Jones, who earned her degrees through East Central University and Oklahoma State. “I didn’t venture too far from this area.”

Jones’ career up until this point included a majority of those years, 23 in fact, at Tulsa Union where she taught mostly 7th graders in areas like a gifted program. She also taught in Lexington and has experience teaching everything from geography to social studies, history and English.

However, this time through the learning marathon is a bit more laid back for Jones, who is teaching English part-time with four classes.

She was drawn to the area because it is not far from Wayne, where she spent most of her youth, lives there once again and helps fill a need able to fit a stretched school district’s budget.

Jones’ return to the profession can be traced to family ties as well, going back to something she’s wanted to do since she started school as a child and makes for an interesting sibling connection. This is because her own brothers are educators, John Powell who learned how to read with help from his sister and is now a teacher at Heritage Hall in Oklahoma City, as well as older brother David, who is the superintendent at Wayne.

“I’m one of those weird people who’s known since they were five they wanted to be a teacher,” said Jones, who was actually born in Pauls Valley, spent her first five years in Paoli and also has family in the area. “My daughter said it’s an obsession.”

Another passion Jones will be able to carry on once again is her love for all things literature, a need for some kids more than others due to books not always being the most popular focus. She feels there is so much in stories kids can use to help them better analyze all parts of life.

Jones is also helping students carry on the tradition of the yearbook at Paoli and hopes to soon launch a student run newspaper by October. One of her students, Shea McNeill, has already stepped forward to be the editor.

The goal is to feature happenings and student work once a month and be something accessible online, though Jones’ own journalistic experience pre-dating the computer age will provide plenty of new learning for her too.

Yet, this fits in with Jones’ strong support of continuing education, something which never diminishes no matter how long one is in a classroom. It may even be more likely with small classes like she has now since the relationships built here will be cherished for years to come.

“They’ve got the whole world ahead of them... I’m almost 60 and I’m like wow, there’s still so much to know,” said Jones. “They’re changing and you never know from day to day what you’re going to do.”

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