Haley Jones, 22, attended Tenkiller School from Head Start through eighth grade. Her mom is a teacher there, and teaching seems to run in the family.
“My aunt, grandma, and grandpa all taught,” said Jones. “I’ve always wanted to work in schools and with special-needs kids.”
A graduate of Keys High School, Jones lives in Tailholt. After she earned her Special Education Paraprofessional certificate from Indian Capital Technology Center, Jones was hired at Grand View School. This is her fourth year with the school, but she had previously worked in the after-school program.
Jones’ day is split between assisting a first-grade student and a kindergartner.
“I work one-on-one with students. I also help out where needed,” she said. “After you get to know them, they are just kids who want to be kids. If I was a parent, this is what I would expect."
Seeing them progress is probably her favorite part about working with students.
“Grand View mainstreams all special education kids so they’re in regular education classes. We try to get them involved in regular education classroom stuff as much as we can,” said Jones. “It’s tough, but rewarding.”
One challenge when she started out was having to build those relationships with the children and earning their trust.
“You really do bond with the kids, especially those you’re one-on-one with,” said Jones. “They have someone they trust, and their parents do, too. I’m sure it makes it easier on them knowing they’re with someone who cares about them.”
She said every day she tries to stay positive and make sure she is a good role model for the students.
All educators need support from parents and the community, according to Jones.
“Being a para, I don’t have a classroom, but I see the amount of work that’s put in, and people who aren’t there maybe don’t realize what all teachers do,” she said. “A lot of them do it because they care.”
Jones would like to further her education, and has considered focusing on special education, early education, or occupational therapy.
“I would like to go back to school at some point; the hard part is, I don’t want to leave my job,” she said. “All the people who work there [Grand View] are sweet; it’s more like a family. It’s a good school.”
Outside of school, Jones spends time with her family, friends, and her boyfriend and his child, and she enjoys going out on the lake. She also works part-time at The Deck at Cookson Village, which has led her to vacations in Grand Cayman Island and the British Isles.
“My best friend lives in Washington, and the more I visit, the more I realize I like to travel,” said Jones. I’d like to go to Washington, D.C. I’m a huge U.S. history fan. I’d like to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.”