Erin Jones is a biracial, transracial adoptee, originally adopted from Minnesota but raised by her educator parents at the American School of The Hague in the Netherlands. She attended Bryn Mawr College and went on to earn her teaching certificate from Pacific Lutheran University. She has now been involved in and around schools for 30 years. She has taught in a variety of environments, from predominantly Black to predominantly White to some of the most diverse communities in the nation. Erin received an award as the Most Innovative Foreign Language Teacher in 2007, while teaching in Tacoma and was the Washington State Milken Educator of the Year in 2008, while teaching in Spokane. She received recognition at the White House in March of 2013 as a "Champion of Change” and was Washington State PTA’s “Outstanding Educator” in 2015. She received recognition as a “Woman of Distinction” from the Seattle Storm in 2020. After serving as a classroom teacher and instructional coach, Erin worked as an executive for two State Superintendents. Erin left the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2012 to work in college-access at the school district level. After 5 years in school district administration, Erin decided to run as a candidate for State Superintendent and was the first Black woman to run for any state office in Washington state, a race she lost by a mere 1%. Erin has 3 adult children - a daughter who graduated from Central Washington University and works for the Equity in Education Coalition, a son who graduated from Harvey Mudd College and is in his last year of graduate school at USC and one who attends college and coaches high school football with her husband of 27 years, James, who is a teacher and head football coach at Timberline High School in the North Thurston School District. When the pandemic stopped schools and travel in March, Erin lost all her paid work, but she decided to take her skills and passion online. She offered 83 days of free teaching to both children and adults from mid-March to the end of June. Her choice to engage, especially as racial and political conflict erupted across the nation, created a platform for her to be more engaged as a speaker and trainer now than ever in her career. She has logged thousands of hours on Zoom delivering keynotes, doing school assemblies and providing training to government agencies, non-profits and schools, and she continues to facilitate free virtual gatherings for adults and children several days per week. She has also recently published a book entitled “Bridges to Heal US, Stories and Strategies for Racial Healing.”
Although I am very passionate about many aspects of public school education, I am probably most passionate about issues of equity that relate both to ethnicity and socio-economic background. I love to work with diverse student populations, but my greatest passion is to empower staff to reach the students who seem unreachable. There is nothing greater than watching a student who comes from a difficult home begin to see their hopes and dreams come alive in academics. I am also passionate about exposing students to the realities of the globalization of our community. As a person who spent most of my childhood traveling across Europe and encountering other children from all corners of the world, I believe we have a responsibility to expose our students to the realities of what exists outside the walls of our school and outside the boundaries of our neighborhoods. Education is the real golden ticket for our students. It is the ticket to freedom and to opportunity. It is the ticket to the success of our nation.
The Cascadia Advocate | Aug 30 , 2021 | Redmond, WA
Storm Seattle | Sep 08 , 2020 | Seattle, WA
1993 Bryn Mawr College, B.A.