Camille Jones, from Quincy, Grant County, was named the 2017 Washington state Teacher of the Year in a ceremony Monday at the EMP Museum in Seattle.
Camille Jones, an elementary-school teacher from Quincy, Grant County, was named the 2017 Washington state Teacher of the Year in a ceremony Monday at the EMP Museum in Seattle.
She is the first winner since 2015 from outside the Puget Sound area. Two years ago, Seattle teacher Lyon Terry won the honor, and last year, it was Nathan Bowling, a high-school teacher from Tacoma.
Jones, 29, doesn’t teach a particular grade at Pioneer Elementary in Quincy, where she spent her childhood on a farm. Instead, she works with students in the school’s STEAM Lab, where she offers challenging activities in science, technology, engineering, art and math.
Teacher of the year finalists, by the numbers
Age: 29 to 45
Experience: 5 years to 20 years
Salary: $46,788 to $74,544
Students at their school: 126 students to 1,394 students
Percentage of students who are low-income: 27 percent to 88 percent
Size of town or city where they teach: 875 people to 167,405 people
Elementary school teachers: 6
High-school teachers: 2
Source: OSPI data
She’s credited with teaching students to think both locally and globally, and for working with her community.
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When her district put a bond measure on the ballot in 2014, for example, she met with farmers and young couples who didn’t have children to explain why the schools needed the money. The measure passed with 64 percent of the vote.
She also worked on a project where her school created a “Big Friendly Monster” that was displayed in 40 participating schools in seven countries. Each school described a body part for the paper monster, which the students then put together with colorful paper, glittery paint and yarn.
During her acceptance speech, Jones stressed the importance of community and family, and noted that her husband, brother and father all came to the ceremony, even though they’re farmers in the middle of the apple and onion harvest. And they never leave the farm during harvest, she joked.
Jones was one of eight finalists from across the state. The other seven are: Timothy Larson (PC Jantz Elementary in Odessa, Lincoln County); Jose Corona (Kirkwood Elementary in Toppenish, Yakima County); Kendra Yamamoto (Martin Luther King Elementary in Vancouver); Carol McKay (Capital High School in Olympia); John Gallagher (Port Angeles High School); Alisa Louie (Evergreen Heights Elementary in Auburn); and Elizabeth Loftus (Olympic View Elementary in Oak Harbor).
Jones was selected by a state committee based on interviews and a written application. The criteria include community involvement as well as teaching accomplishments, ability to analyze an education issue and a commitment to strengthening the teaching profession. Nominees also must write a proposed platform, outlining what their message as teacher-of-the-year would be.
The selection committee includes past state teachers-of-the-year, and representatives from the Washington Education Association, the Professional Educator Standards Board, the Washington Association of School Administrators, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Washington State Legislative Youth Advisory Council.
As the winner, Jones now is a contender for the national teacher-of-the-year competition.