CWU alumna nationally recognized for progress with STEAM classes

Camille+Jones%2C+a+CWU+alumna%2C+currently+teaches+STEAM+%28Science%2C+Technology%2C+Engineering%2C+Arts+and+Math%29+courses+at+Pioneer+Elementary+School+in+Quincy%2C+Washington.
Camille Jones, a CWU alumna, currently teaches STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) courses at Pioneer Elementary School in Quincy, Washington.

Camille Jones, a CWU alumna, currently teaches STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) courses at Pioneer Elementary School in Quincy, Washington.

Courtesy of Rich Villacres

Courtesy of Rich Villacres

Camille Jones, a CWU alumna, currently teaches STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) courses at Pioneer Elementary School in Quincy, Washington.

Isabelle Hautefeuille, Staff Reporter

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CWU Alumna Camille Jones was awarded Washington state’s Teacher of the Year in early September. Jones is the fifth CWU alumni to receive this honor since 2005, according to a press release from the Department of Education.

Born in Quincy, Washington to a family of onion farmers, Jones didn’t originally plan to become a teacher. After graduating from Seattle Pacific University in 2008 with her bachelor’s in Spanish, she found it hard to find a job immediately.

Jones turned to teaching after a high school teacher asked for some assistance and she then found a passion for it. She would go on to study for two years at CWU, then transfer to the Wenatchee campus to graduate with her Elementary Education Teaching Certificate in 2010.

Jones now works at Pioneer Elementary School in her hometown of Quincy. She said that she loves working with kids.

“I get excited with everything new that I can show to them,” Jones said.

She tells the children about how challenging situations can help their brain develop and grow. She enjoys the moments when she hears one of her students say “oh, my brain is growing so much.”

The nomination for Teacher of the Year came from Jones’ principal.

“I was so honored,” Jones said. With that encouragement, she said that it made her feel like she could do more.

Jones thinks she won because of the complexities that come with her job.

“I think I earned the price because my classroom is very unique,” Jones said.

Jones’ classroom is a hybrid between ordinary and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) courses. STEAM classes incorporate a variety of subjects into real world examples.

In her class, students work on something relating to these fields-and not just one subject at a time. Jones makes a point to show her students the interrelation that exists in real life, that academia and challenges throughout the world are connected.

“If you’re building something as an engineer, you will use math skills, science skills and others,” Jones said. “All these things work together in real life, even if we are trying to separate them in little buckets at school, in different hours of the day.”

Even when students do well in her class, Jones said that she still keeps a close eye on them.

“My entire day, my whole job is to try to find out what the kids are good at and help them get better at those things,” Jones said.

Last April, Teachers of the Year from every state were invited to spend a week in D.C. and to meet President Trump as congratulations. Jones went despite her conflicting political views with Trump. She said that she didn’t regret going.

“Regardless of who’s the president in the White House, to be invited is an incredible honor,” Jones said. “I was there as the only person from Washington state, the only teacher out of the thousands and thousands of teachers – I was the one to represent them.”

After the repeal of the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, Jones penned an open letter to Trump. In her letter, she asked the president to not repeal DACA.

“My students are almost all Hispanic and most of them are children of farm workers,” Jones said.

Jones said she’s really surprised to see all the people in support of keeping DACA in their community.

“In my town, a lot of people are Republicans and I don’t see them as being anti-immigrant or anti-DACA. When I wrote the letter, I got a lot of support from many members of my community saying how they were thankful to see things like that being written,” Jones said.

Jones said that she’s not only fighting for students, but also for the 20,000 teachers in the United States that are under DACA’s protection. They could face expulsion as well if it’s rescinded.

As far as the publicity, Jones is still getting used to it. She said that she felt she had to represent all teachers and implement change for community issues.

“I’m a very private person, naturally, and this year has really challenged me to get out of my comfort zone and to speak more publicly on very complicated issues with senators, legislators and principals,” Jones said.

She’s hoping that people will follow what they’re passionate about.

“Find a thing that is scaring you, but [one that] you also believe in, and run towards it because you’ll be surprised [in] yourself and what you can do,” Jones said.

 

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CWU alumna nationally recognized for progress with STEAM classes