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BoE hopeful says quality education takes team
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Verdell Jones
Liberty County native Verdell Jones wants to employ her "passion" for youth by running for a position on the board of education.
Jones, who was educated through the school system, has served the community in other areas besides public office, volunteering for leadership positions in parent-teacher organizations and teaching Sunday school at a local church.
She also will be leading the program ceremonies for the annual Back to School Rally in Riceboro, as she has for the past ten years.
"I say you haven't given until you have given in to the life of a child," Jones said.
Sitting on the edge of her seat, Jones articulated her aspirations if afforded the opportunity to serve on the board.
"We need to be accountable to making sure that our children receive a quality education," Jones said.
Her call for accountability includes frequent evaluations, covering all positions from administrators to students, "across the board."
"You can not expect what you don't inspect," she said.
Jones thinks in the adage that it takes a village to raise a child and every unit involved in education should work together as a team to make for an optimum learning environment.
Her idea for this "team," does not stop with board members, teachers and students, but includes the administrators, the community, and, most importantly, parents.
"All the players have to be in tune with each other," Jones said. "We have to connect."
"I want to try to find ways to encourage greater parent and community involvement in the education process," Jones said.
She does not want the learning to stop when the bell rings at the end of the school day, but wants to equip parents with the "tools they need to help their children when they're not in the classroom."
"We need to get out-of-the-box thinking and find ways that we can get people more involved in the process," she said.
Jones is also an advocate for "non-traditional types of learning and environments."
"There are kids that have gifts and abilities that may not come out in a basic classroom setting," Jones said. "We've got to find innovative ways to develop those things."
Another deep-seated interest for Jones is instructing students with a working knowledge they can apply after they graduate.
She believes the school system should foster practical guidance for students' future endeavors, such as entering the workforce or seeking higher education.
As an entrepreneur for more than 13 years, Jones has seen firsthand how limited the hiring pool can be, finding that the "work values and ethics aren't there as they used to be."
"That guidance counseling, that mentoring process, is an absolute," she said.
Jones mentioned that her business background gives her an edge and would provide an added insight to the commercial workings of the board.  
Jones described the present board as being "very progressive ... especially in the area of facilities."
"Now that we have all these wonderful, great facilities...I'd like to see now our resources spent more into the quality of education that we produce," she said.
Jones will be running for the District 1 seat, currently held by Mattie Hicks, who has served for more than 10 years.
Jones said she personally spoke with Hicks about her intentions to run.
"I hold her in the highest and greatest regards and with great respect," she said of Hicks, calling her a "pioneer."
"I celebrate everything she's done for us, in the first district and in the county," Jones said.
Jones currently works as a State Farm agent and has been married to Randolph Jones Jr., an Air Force retiree, for 25 years. They have two daughters; the youngest is a 2008 graduate from Liberty County High School.
Jones also sat on the Liberty County Citizens' Advisory Board and is currently part of the Liberty Regional Medical Center's Hospital Authority.
"I've been involved and I just think that this first district board of education seat will take my involvement to a greater level and to a level in which I can help move our educational system forward," Jones said.

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