At the April 7 Grady County Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Lee Bailey’s recommendation to hire Cairo High School teacher Danielle Jones as the ALPHA Academy Director for Grady County schools was accepted.
Jones has big plans for when she officially takes the reins on July 1.
“I see this opportunity to help build an academy within the walls of our schools that exemplifies greatness and encourages the development of academics, a college-going culture, family engagement and summer programming in order to establish enrichment opportunities for our K-12 Grady County students,” said Jones.
One of the goals Jones hopes to meet within this program is to meet and exceed society and community needs to advance the students to a higher level of learning.
Jones wants to see AP College-Board Program and Honors-level classes at Cairo High School become more rigorous and more of a vertical alignment process happen within Grady County’s gifted elementary and middle school program.
Her vision is to create an academy in Grady County much like the MERIT Program at Thomas County Central High School.
She believes the foundation is already there, but it needs to be built upon and improved.
“It’s already there because of the preparation of teachers, school administrators and city personnel. We are planning on expanding it and building on that,” said Jones.
Creative elements are also important to Jones. Students will be encouraged to take advantage of dual-enrollment and workforce programs to make sure they are working their full potential.
Part of her plan is to make an individual student plan with ALPHA Academy students.
She said, “We want to make sure the students have a path laid out in their best interest and career elements.”
Other parts of her plan include giving the students what they need in early education so that when they reach high school they will have knowledge of a post-secondary education. She also plans to offer younger students the opportunity to go on more field trips.
“It’s important to expose these students the real world. With principals, teachers and personnel, I hope to make that happen,” said Jones.
Even though Jones will not be the ALPHA Academy director until July 1, she has started getting feedback from parents, teachers and administration to discover the ALPHA Academy’s strengths and weaknesses.
Last December, Jones received her education specialist degree. It was through the course work from the degree program that encouraged her to apply for the position of ALPHA director.
She said, “I want to take my experience in the classroom to mentor not only students, but the gifted teachers with professional development opportunities, and more interaction with students that this position will give me. This is about letting the students of Grady County shine.”
As part of the overall plan to make the students of Grady County “shine,” she will be striving to have the Grady County schools live up to the statement of the college board, “Advanced Placement (AP) is a rigorous academic program built on the commitment, passion and hard work of students and educators from secondary schools and higher education.”
“I want to ensure that our students are exposed to content not found in the traditional classroom and go beyond the Common Core Standards. As Director of the ALPHA program, I want to enhance the quality of our gifted students’ education,” said Jones.
Jones has been a teacher for 18 years. She started at Thomas County Central High School in 1996. She was named Teacher of the Year in 2000.
She arrived at Cairo High School in 2002 and currently teaches English/Literature to 9th- through 12th-grade students.
The classroom is one place Jones will miss when she takes on the position of ALPHA director. She will be based at the Board of Education building.
“I’m going to miss my students in the classroom, but I will still be seeing them and helping them, just now in a different setting,” said Jones.
Reporter Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1826.