Todd Jones returns to West Linn High School

After a year of working for the governor’s office on a team of five to improve public education, Todd Jones, social sciences and history teacher, has returned to West Linn for his eighth year.

Jones is very involved at West Linn and has been teaching in the district for 14 years, he coaches track and cross country at Rosemont Ridge Middle School and is the adviser for the Model United Nations team. For the past year, Jones has been working in state politics and the education system, trying to improve the quality of education in Oregon. To participate, he needed put his teaching, coaching and advisor positions on hold for a year, with the intention of picking them back up in this school year.

“I agreed to the one year leave only under the condition that I could return to teaching at West Linn in fall 2012,” Jones said. “I love it here.”

Jones’ journey over the last year began in June 2011, when a law established the Oregon Education Investment Board. The board was given the task of bringing alignment to the state’s education system, from preschool to college, in both programs and budget. To help encourage the advancement and enforcement of the law, Governor John Kitzhaber built a team of five people, including Jones.

While serving in the Governor’s office for eight months, Jones’ first responsibility was policy research and to report to the Governor’s office and the new board the results of his research. His research and reports were focused on finding the best education practices and strategies across the nation. He also spent time in outreach, telling people around the state about their work and the direction they were trying to move the education system.

Finally, last February, Jones spent most of his time meeting with legislatures persuading them to pass an additional bill which assists the change in Oregon’s public education.

For the last three months of his year on leave from West Linn, Jones spent time working on the Chalkboard Project, an independent foundation that promotes teacher quality. On the project Jones helped a team of teachers from around the state develop a list of recommendations for the improvement of teaching in Oregon.

At the beginning of the school year, Jones returned to all of the positions he held before going on leave. Today, Jones continues to balance his commitments between teaching and politics.

“I will continue to work with a couple advisory councils working to support and strengthen teaching and learning in Oregon, but I have no interest in leaving this profession. I love being a teacher, and mostly, I love being a teacher here.”