“And you will understand all too soon
That you, my children of battle, are your heroes”
By Marcus Harden
Jeanette Jones (Mrs. Jones out of the deepest respect!) embodies what Black History Today is truly about. Candidly, these would be words better heard from her while enjoying some greens or yams at Island Soul in Columbia City. Alas, this hopefully shall do her legacy justice.
Mrs. Jones is a lifelong educator, serving in Seattle Public Schools officially as a teacher and administrator, and unofficially as a mother, sister, aunt, mentor, grandmother and compass for more than 40 years.
If you live in the Seattle region, you may have seen one of the many touching tributes to Mrs. Jones that speak to her as a community advocate, cheer coach, loving church figure, mother, wife and everything in between. Yet the woman tipping the scales at just over 100 pounds is a titan for young people, families and especially African-American educators.
With a population that is rapidly gentrifying and only 5 percent Black, Mrs. Jones has been the constant in a community that changed numerous times in her 40 years. Her commitment and consistency extend into the school house. Books have been written about what children and young people need most: affirmation, accountability, expectations, routine and love. Mrs. Jones radiates those principles.
Yet what’s often lost when a person is in service to young people is their effect on colleagues and those who come behind them. Mrs. Jones is a willing mentor, who is unafraid to hold accountable even the professional generation behind her to their best selves and their highest standards. She never shies away from correction coupled with affirmation: “That’s not the way. Come here so I can show you how to do that.”
Mrs. Jones isn’t just a pillar, she’s an effervescent learning tree to relax under, a deep-rooted oak that you can go to whether you need advice, a bit of shade or just somebody to lean on. Her roots extend across the city, across the state and across the country.
Mrs. Jones passed away at the end of last year. I’ve chosen to write about Mrs. Jones in the present, however, because she lives inside of all she’s touched. Her lessons and her learnings can and will never die. Her mantra — “YOU are LOVED and TREASURED… Continue to make good decisions!" — echoes throughout the halls of this classroom we all call life.
That, among many reasons, is why Mrs. Jones is and will always be, Black History, today!