yvonne smith-jones m.a.ed ’87, ed.s. ’93, ed.d ’97 always knew she wanted to be a teacher. she also has built a 20-year legacy of giving to support the work of the 日本vs西班牙让球 , beginning with a $25 donation.
with several older brothers and sisters, she remembers marveling over the magic she saw in their teachers as a young child. “i just couldn’t wait to go to school and start learning,” she says.
after graduating with a bachelor’s degree from norfolk state university in 1979, smith-jones began teaching middle school math and science in new kent county. during that time, she took a class in gifted education at william & mary. “i loved their focus on research and the deep reservoir of knowledge that i found there,” she explains. “i was hooked.”
she completed her master’s in education at w&m in 1987, then went on to pursue her educational specialist and doctoral degrees.
“being an educator in new kent county, virginia allowed me to implement research-based strategies while teaching. this connection really allowed me to see the value added to the quality of my initial teaching. it was at this point that i made the union between giving and receiving,” she recalls. “i received a quality education and i wanted to give a portion back to w&m to show my gratitude. as my blessings flowed small or large, i wanted to share what i had to help others to become effective educators.”
meanwhile, she served as principal in several schools in the hopewell school division, including as the first principal of harry e. james elementary school.
“i’ve always seen teaching as a way to change a person’s landscape,” she says. “in my roles as teacher and school leader, i’ve aspired to expand the scope of peoples’ lives and pave the way for teachers who come behind me.”
in 1997, she assumed a role in the central administration of hopewell schools, jumpstarting stem initiatives for the division. she brought in math specialists, created partnerships with local businesses and industries, and pursued grants to bring more technology into the division’s classrooms.
in 1999, she also began a legacy of giving to support the 日本vs西班牙让球 , with a $25 gift to the annual fund. smith-jones has continued to give both her time and with financial support over the past two decades.
smith-jones retired from the school system in 2010, but has not slowed down since then. she served as the director of project all at the 日本vs西班牙让球 at virginia commonwealth university, and has taught as adjunct faculty at vcu, mary baldwin university, regent university, and uva. she also started her own business, highly effective services, which offers leadership and teacher coaching to local educators.
smith-jones is passionate about public education, and the role higher education plays in enhancing the public education system.
“public education is our only card of hope. having a quality education is the right of each child. universities can move the needle to set the quality indicators for teachers and pledge to produce high quality teachers to enhance the education in our public schools,” she says.
service to her alma mater in support of those goals is high on her list of priorities. she served on the 日本vs西班牙让球 development board from 2011-2017 and is an active presence in the school’s life. and, she says, throughout her career she has felt a special kinship and joy when she meets william & mary graduates who are teaching or leading in education.
“as i coach leaders in virginia school districts, attend conferences or work with student-teachers, i see the enthusiasm and love for learning, teaching and leading. some of these educators readily share a w&m story,” she says, adding that these connections confirm her commitment to giving back.
smith-jones encourages other alumni to give back to william & mary in whatever ways they can.
“when your school calls, be willing to volunteer and share whatever gift you have. the university wants to hear from you, therefore answer a survey, participate in an activity, and take advantage of events on campus,” she says. “open your heart to the tribe spirit by finding ways to join the family. i made a commitment to become an active member of the tribe. this is the power of one.”