SAN ANTONIO — Teaching is not meant to be easy, but it is meant to be life-changing. If you ask Riley Jones about her job, that’s what she would tell you.
Only 4 years into teaching and she has already changed many lives.
Jones won the KENS 5 EXCEL Award for East Central ISD.
“It’s not meant to be easy. We’re here changing lives and we’re getting the work done, teachers across San Antonio” she said.
Jones is a very young teacher, at it for just four years.
“I am a product of this district and East Central is a community. These desks that are in my classroom are probably the same desks that I've sat in, in middle school, when I was a student here,” she said.
Most who know Jones would tell you age is just a number. Her passion for teaching eighth-grade math at Legacy Middle School is larger than life.
"I hate the stigma that people say that students hate math. I think that students hate feeling confused or even embarrassed for not knowing the answers. So just being in this math department and building a community around my students in a place where they can take risks and not feel embarrassed about not knowing, that's why I just love math."
Jones added she feels at home among her students.
"It's just my place to be with these kids. They're needing that structure and that love right now in such a pivotal time," she said.
No doubt times are different. In fact, Jones had just started her teaching career when the coronavirus shifted classes to remote learning.
"I got to pioneer some of the first online courses here in my district through a summer school program right as COVID hit," Jones said. "And so getting to make those resources and helping teachers, I also have a web page that reaches teachers nationwide that has different resources for online learning that I get to help make that impact even nationally.”
Nationally and locally her students say her impact goes beyond the classroom.
From math teacher to volleyball assistant coach, Jones finds a way to be a constant in their life. Her students adding she inspires them.
“Ms. Jones is a role model to me. She always went the extra mile. Thank you for always pushing me to the limits. Thank you for always making sure I’m ok,” one of them said.
Superintendent Roland Toscano congratulated Jones on making a huge impact across East Central ISD and proving to be a leader:
“Thank you, Riley. We’re so proud of you. Thank you for leading and teaching from a place of love,” he said.
For Jones, watching her students grow, learn and be more confident with what could be a challenging subject, is her biggest reward.
"I'm changing their lives and they're changing mine in return,” she said.