Ebonie Jones, fourth-grade reading teacher at Oak Hill Elementary, tries to operate her classroom based on the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”
“I have one basic hope for all my students,” Ebonie says, “be a good human! Academics are always important but your character and how you treat others is what people will remember about you in the future.”
Ebonie, who was nominated as an Extraordinary Educator by her principal, Dr. Candice Bailey, received Oak Hill’s Teacher of the Year award from 2019-2020 and went on to be a Top Ten finalist across the entire school district.
“When you enter Ms. Jones’ classroom, you will find her beautifully guiding students and engaging students,” says Dr. Bailey.
And for Ebonie, this spirit of guidance and character-building came from years of her own mother prioritizing education.
“Growing up, my mom always told us that education was important,” Ebonie explains. “She was always very positive about everything we wanted to do. She taught me that it was okay to be inquisitive and showed me how to find my own answers instead of telling me everything. She made me believe I could do anything and that feeling does not fade!”
Ebonie says that she wants to treat her students with the kind of encouragement her own mother raised her with.
“I encourage them to try new things. I correct them gently when they are wrong, and I explain why. I teach them to be kind to others and accept their differences,” Ebonie adds. “When mistakes are made, I let them know that they are just one step closer to success. I teach them to be critical thinkers – asking questions is okay, and sometimes, there is more than one solution to a problem.”
Alongside the influence of her mother, Ebonie was filled with a passion and joy for education from a very young age. She remembers back to her days in elementary school being energized and inspired by the lessons her teachers taught. From hands-on projects about the economy to an integration of arts and creativity, Ebonie is still influenced by the classroom experiences she had as a child.
A proud Aggie graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, Ebonie has taught in a variety of settings, including education resource centers. She remembers feeling overwhelmed and excited when she first transitioned from teaching EC resource to teaching a full subject load for the third grade.
“Luckily, I was placed on a team with a veteran teacher, Mrs. Cotton,” Ebonie recalls. “Knowing that I would have a partner with so much experience was comforting and reassuring. Mrs. Cotton is one of the most amazing teachers I have ever met.”
Ebonie says that Mrs. Cotton was supportive, encouraging, and one of the best teachers she has known. It was Mrs. Cotton who set the tone for Ebonie’s interactions with new teachers she encounters each year.
“I want everyone to feel the same confidence and have the same type of support that she gave me.”
Ebonie’s hope for High Point schools, including Oak Hill, is to prepare students well to become active participants in our global community.
“I hope that High Point schools continue to produce well-rounded citizens ready to tackle the challenges of our ever-changing world,” she says. “Our students are special and they are destined for great things.”
And with educators like Ebonie who are teaching with extraordinary attention to critical thinking, kindness, and character, we believe our students are well on their way.
Discover our High Points,
The HPD Team
You can support Ebonie and her students at Oak Hill Elementary, by contributing to her Extraordinary Educator Amazon Wishlist.
Photography by Maria West Photography