Principal earns national award
Danville-Neel Principal Jeremy Jones one of two educators honored
Tracy L. Brady, Hartselle Enquirer
State Superintendent of Education Dr. Ed Richardson delivered a surprise to Danville-Neel Principal Jeremy Jones Tuesday.
Richardson, along with other state and local leaders, visited Danville-Neel Elementary School to inform Jones that he was one of two Alabama educators chosen to receive the prestigious Milken Family Foundation's National Educator Award.
The announcement took place in a school-wide assembly Jones believed to be an Alabama Reading Initiative program presentation.
Jones and a principal yet to be announced from the Vestavia Hills area of Birmingham are among 100 recipients from 46 states to be notified this month. Their names are kept secret until the moment of each announcement.
The National Educator Award carries with it a $25,000 unrestricted financial award.
"This is obviously a truly outstanding and well-run school," Richardson said as he took center stage at the ceremony. "If there is a more attractive school in the state, I haven't seen it."
Richardson went on to explain the purpose for his visit was to present an educator at Danville-Neel with a very special award.
"Alabama public schools wouldn't be doing as well as they are without great teachers and principals," Richardson said. "And a few truly outstanding ones."
Richardson then announced Jones as the award recipient and presented him with a check for $25,000 from the Milken Family Foundation.
Jones was obviously surprised by Richardson's announcement.
"Five years ago, I was 25 or 26 and they (the school system) took a chance on a young guy who came back to his home county to make a difference," Jones said through tears. "We have made and are continuing to make a difference. When you love your job and the people you work with, it makes life so easy. Thank you so much."
Recipients of the Milken Educators Awards are selected on the basis of numerous criteria, including classroom, school, and community practices; creativity and originality in developing and implementing educational curricula, outstanding ability to instill confidence and character in students; and a long-term commitment to professional development and the growth of the teaching profession.
Morgan County Schools Superintendent Don Murphy said Jones' award is so special because Jones was nominated for it and was completely unaware of the process.
"It's wonderful to have one of our educators nominated for this award," Murphy said. "What sets Jeremy apart from other educators is his love for children, his love for his work, and the love he has for the staff here at Danville-Neel."
Jones and his wife, Rosellen, will attend a three-day professional development conference to be held in Los Angeles next spring as part of the award. He will represent the state and become part of the Milken Family Education Network, a coalition of more than 1,850 education professionals, including past recipients.