Aug. 12, 2004

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Contact: Barbara Menke, KU School of Education; (785) 864-9979.

KU School of Education honors 1,079 Kansans for teaching 25 years or more

LAWRENCE -- After 40 years of teaching music in Kansas public schools, Mickey Jones of Mullinville thinks music training teaches skills that give students lifelong advantages.

She is among 1,079 Kansas public school teachers who received certificates from Angela Lumpkin, dean of education at the University of Kansas, in an ongoing program that recognizes Kansas teachers who have taught 25 years or more. This year's honored teachers represent 185 of the 302 unified school districts in Kansas during 2003-04 plus three interlocal districts in 91 of the state's 105 counties.

"We are thrilled to honor the service and expertise of these dedicated teachers," Lumpkin said. "Every day for more than two decades, they have been the professionals who have mentored and shaped the lives of thousands of students.

"We hope the people across Kansas will take note of the dedicated teachers in their communities and commend them for their important and timeless work."

Jones decided she wanted to teach music when she got to know the late Phyllis Henry Heryford, who rented an apartment in Turon from Jones' parents, Dixie and Gene Fisher. Jones was a fourth-grader.

"She taught music and played the flute," Jones said. "I decided right then and there that's what I wanted to do and that was my goal from then on. She only lived in our house for a year but we stayed friends until she died."

After graduating from high school, Jones attended what is now Fort Hays State University, where she received a bachelor's degree in music education in 1964. During college, she met her husband, John Paul Jones of Jennings, and they were married during the Christmas holidays of their senior year.

Together, their public school careers have taken them first to Moscow and Mankato, then to Bucklin for 29 years and, since 1999, Mullinville. Her husband is superintendent at Mullinville USD 424, which has about 120 K-12 students. In addition to teaching music, Mickey Jones has been coordinator of the 21st Century Learning Academy and Charter School in Mullinville for the past three years. The school offers online and on-site opportunities for kindergarteners through adults to complete requirements for their high school diplomas. The distance learning effort is part of the Southwest Plains Regional Service Center in Sublette.

In every town where they've lived, Mickey Jones has been choir director at the United Methodist Church. And if the town lacks a piano teacher, she gives lessons because she thinks students should have that opportunity.

"We need more music teachers," she said. "Well-rounded students need music. They learn self-discipline and organization. It's been proven over and over. To do well, they've got to learn to practice and do things on their own." She added that students can stay involved all their lives with music, earn college scholarships and supplement their income with lessons or performances.

Of the 1,079 teachers recognized by KU this year, 822 have been teaching for 25 years. In addition, 244 have been teaching between 25 and 35 years and 13 have more than 35 years of teaching experience. KU's School of Education sends questionnaires to Kansas public school districts to obtain the names of teachers who should receive certificates. Certificates are issued based on responses from individual school districts statewide; some school districts do not participate in the recognition program.

Teachers who received certificates are listed online at http://www.news.ku.edu/2004/04N/AugNews/Aug12/directory.html by district number, district home county, district name, hometown for USD teachers (when available) and school location for interlocal districts, level, subject, total years taught and years taught in Kansas, all based on information furnished by their school districts.

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