On April 12, Jones was honored for his dedication to students as the winner of the My Favorite Teacher Contest hosted by Barnes & Noble. Jones was selected from 155 entries. Students were invited to nominate a teacher that had influenced their life by writing essays, poems or thank you letters.
Ninth grader Trevor Nelson nominated Jones.
Trevor was not originally a fan of math but his feelings toward the subject changed when Jones became his teacher in eighth grade. Trevor felt that Jones cared about him as a student and person, opening his mind to the subject. Trevor described Jones as having "an amazing influence on my life."
There is white board in the corner of Jones' room dedicated to topics other than math. The board has a daily motivational or sometimes humorous quote. Jones said it's not his teaching technique but rather how he makes students feel that makes all the difference.
Becoming a math teacher was not Jones' initial goal. He planned to teach shop. Somewhere in college, math clicked, and he now teaches the same class that he failed as a student. When he graduated with a teaching degree, math was the job that was available and a career was born.
When teaching, Jones hopes to help students learn that math is not a distant subject rather it is something they will use every day.
"It helps us get from one point to another, and if we find the traffic is blocked, it helps us find another route," he said.
During his years teaching, Jones has had more than his share of tragedies. Two of his daughters were diagnosed with brain cancer. His daughter Carri died in 2008. In August of 2012, his wife, Patty, died from cancer. Throughout it all, Jones has maintained a positive attitude for his students and has been comforted through teaching. Sometimes he is overwhelmed with the caring he has received.
"I have one little boy who comes in to my classroom every morning, sits next to my desk and asks me how I'm doing. When I tell him I'm fine he says, 'No really, how are you doing?'" Jones said.
When the people at Roy Junior High found out that his daughter was sick, they raised more than $10,000 to help his family with expenses.
"When my wife died I was overwhelmed by the support I was offered," Jones said.
When learning he had been nominated and won the favorite teacher contest, Jones was moved.
"I've had Trevor as a student for two years. It's always a little bit of a surprise to see what the students pick up, what sticks. You never know who is listening with their ears, who is listening with their hearts and who is ignoring you," Jones said.
Trevor is motivated by Jones' white board quotes and his math skills.
"The quotes on the board every day are really funny and upbeat, and he helped me understand how and when to use formulas," Trevor said.
Even when it comes to giving a final exam, Jones makes sure his students are reminded that there is more to life than grades. In Trevor's nominating essay he wrote, "at the bottom of a paper titled 'Advice' that Mr. Jones gave us, which included two pages of inspirational quotes, is his final quiz. It says, 'Do you know I love you, miss you, and worry about you? Do you know I am proud of who you are and who you are becoming?' I can proudly answer yes to that question. Mr. Jones has not only influenced me to become a better student, but to become a better person".
Jones take on life and teaching is simple.
"We are all tools in God's toolbox, and we aren't all intended to do the same thing."
The competition continues
Laryrn Jones will now be entered into the regional competition where six winners will be chosen. Each regional winner will receive a NOOK HD® and a $500 Barnes & Noble Gift Card. From the pool of five regional winners, Barnes & Noble will name one teacher the "Barnes & Noble National Teacher of the Year."
The winning teacher will receive $5,000 and the title of "Teacher of the Year."
The winner will be recognized at a special community celebration at a local Barnes & Noble store.
The winning teacher's school will receive $5,000 as well.
Source: Barnes & Noble