After eight years of loyal service to School Board 29, Queens native Stephen Jones will step down. Jones, who lives in Springfield Gardens, is relocating to Augusta, Ga. to become a marshal and will finish his term June 30.
Jones, treasurer of SB 29, is the second board member to relinquish his position this year. City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) removed himself from his position on the board in January, after he was elected to the City Council. Jones served two terms on the board from 1993 to 1996 and from 1999 to 2002.
I joined the board because it was hurting me to look at our kids who couldnt read or write, Jones said. They were just getting passed on to the next level.
Unlike many who join school boards, Jones did not have any political aspirations and just wanted to focus on the children. Kids were falling through the cracks and being sent to jail, dropping out or doing drugs, he said.
I grew up hard, he said. Coming up there were no programs to help us. Everything we did was trial and error.
He said somebody needed to show the children that there was a better way to live. Jones who works with the MTA never graduated from high school but received a general equivalency diploma. Thus he said he understands the difficulties that lie ahead for people without a degree.
Young people need to realize they cant succeed without going to school, Jones said. Education has to begin in pre-kindergarten and not when the child is in fifth grade, junior high school or high school, he said.
Mr. Jones has been a real asset to public education, said Nathaniel Washington, president of School Board 29. He has been a staunch supporter of the district and went out of his way to visit all of the schools in the district.
Known for keeping it real, Jones would go into the schools to see what was working and what was not, Washington said. Once there, he said, Jones always encouraged the students to study, behave and stressed the importance of an education.
He was concerned that the children advance themselves at a young age and not make any mistakes, Washington said. He was a real valuable asset to the board and will be sorely missed.
School District 29 encompasses 28 schools and 27,000 students in an area covering a large swath of southeast and northeast Queens. The district stretches from Queens Village to Fresh Meadows and from Hollis to Rosedale, and includes Cambria Heights, Rosedale, Laurelton, parts of Bellerose, Springfield Gardens and parts of Jamaica.
These are our kids, and we have to go to any length to save them because they are our future, Jones said. I would go to any length to stop kids from going to jail, doing drugs or dying. I want to help them reach their dreams.
Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.
©2002 Community News Group
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