New Administrator, Keith Jones, Embraces School’s culture


     New assistant principal Keith Jones is an unfamiliar face in the halls, but one short conversation with him, and he is no longer a stranger. His use of “you know” in the holes of conversation is an indicator of his relatable, easy-going personality.

     “I’m very kid centered, and so building those relationships with the kids … and being involved is what I look forward to the most,” Jones said.

     Jones’ first involvement with kids started when he was working in marketing and fundraising at Sprint. While working there, he was involved in KAOS, which stands for Creating An Opportunity for Success, and the program was dedicated to doing just that. KAOS is a mentoring program similar to Can We Talk that works with kids in Kansas City, Kan.

     In addition, Jones was the director of Boys and Girls Club so between this and the KAOS program, he met and worked with many of the kids in the Kansas City, Kan. area.

     After the initial point of his career, he went back to school to get his master’s in education. From there, he started his rounds as a teacher. Jones taught journalism classes like yearbook, newspaper and video productions for five years at F.L. Schlagle High School in Kansas City, Kan. F.L. Schlagle has about 850 students. He then experienced a school about the size of Free State, with around 1600 students, when he took his first administration job at Blue Valley Northwest.

     Upon being offered the opportunity at Free State, he and his family moved from Kansas City to Lawrence. Working in a new school in a new town has given Jones new goals.

     “My overall goal is to get a good feel of the culture of the school,” Jones said, “ … to build relationships with the staff and students … learn what it means to be a firebird … and try and make a difference.”

     Between helping with Can We Talk and his plans to attend the school’s sporting events, Jones should have no problem getting to know the staff and students.

     Jones’ involvement with Can We Talk will include going on field trips and helping with planning, plus he’s hoping to provide other opportunities like bringing in guest speakers.

     “We’re gonna go to Sprint this year to allow the kids to see the headquarters of the Sprint campus and let them talk to the executives about what it takes to be successful in the work force,” Jones said, “so I’ll help out with things like that but kinda fall in wherever they need me to fall in.”

     Jones is spreading his dedication to his career across two campuses as he works on his PhD at Baker University. From 6-10 p.m. every Wednesday night, he is busy at Baker.

     “The thing about when you get into a masters level, or even doctorates program, you’re just taking what I’m doing on an everyday basis as an assistant principal and talking about how you can fine tune those different areas about policies, procedures, school climate, you know,” Jones said. “So really it’s fascinating to me because I’m going to be an expert in my field of study.”

     It’s a safe assumption to say that Jones’ efforts will pay off, and he will soon be a familiar face in the halls.

     “I’m excited to be (here),” Jones said. “I think that our principal, Mr. West, has a good vision for what he wants here and, you know, hopefully I can help implement some of those things and support the things that are already here.”