Connections: Linking Talented Educators
Connections: Linking Talented Educators

Spotlight: Dion T. Jones (MD '22)

March 30, 2023

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Dion T. Jones (MD ’22) thinks about success for himself and his students as a long-term project: “It’s not an overnight process. It takes compassionate commitment.” The third grade teacher received his Milken Educator Award at Fairland Elementary in Silver Spring on January 10, 2023.

Milken Family Foundation: What do you like about working with elementary students, particularly third graders?

Dion T. Jones (MD ’22): I like seeing third grade students become more independent learners. Third grade is the beginning of new learning opportunities that help them deal with the complexity of upper grade levels.

MFF: How are you working to address pandemic-related issues with your students, both academic and social-emotional?

Dion: I have been intentionally adjusting the pacing of the curriculum and prioritizing the content that was disrupted by the pandemic. During morning meetings I incorporate strategies students can use to deal with social interactions with their peers and regulate their emotions.

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MFF: How did you end up in education?

Dion: I have always had a desire to be an educator. I believe that it is my calling.

MFF: Tell us about your first year in the classroom.

Dion: It was incredible to learn the essence of what it’s like to be a teacher, cultivate a classroom culture and routine, and build relationships with my students. I think the challenging part was learning the work-life balance. One positive memory that stands out is that I chose to keep trying, every day. The support and encouragement from my colleagues helped me to work through my first year.

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MFF: Who are your role models?

Dion: A few of my role models are Mr. Robert Eccles, Dr. Johnny Brinson, Dr. Marjorie Miles, Dr. Leontye Lewis, Dr. Dan Joseph, Mrs. Sandra Welty, Dr. Hattie Washington, and Dr. Mable Murray. My favorite teachers were Mrs. Barbara Stuart, my high school math teacher, and Mr. Gregory McMillian, my literacy teacher.

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MFF: How did you feel at your Milken Educator Award notification?

Dion: I was shocked, amazed and sincerely grateful. I couldn’t believe that it was my name that was being called.

MFF: How did students respond to your Milken Award?

Dion: My students were excited and they celebrated me. I believe it gave them hope that anything is possible to achieve if you continue to work hard at it.

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MFF: How do you define “success” for yourself, and for your students?

Dion: Success for both my students and me is defined by growth over time. It’s not an overnight process. It takes a compassionate commitment.

MFF: What do you hope students remember from their time with you?

Dion: That “once a scholar, always a scholar.” And that no one will love them as much as I do.

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