This July, Kerry Jones, Director of Elementary Education for West Hartford Public Schools, returned to successfully facilitate the first module of Neag’s 2018-2019 PK-3 Leadership Program. The module, entitled Curriculum and Instruction, covers a diverse range of topics and brings together a team of experts to help participants dig deeper into curricular design for the PreK-3 level.
Jones’ background in the field of PreK-3 education is both remarkable and extensive. She is now in her sixth year as Director of Elementary Education for West Hartford Public Schools, where she is responsible for PreK-5 curriculum, instruction, and professional development, as well as for K-12 reading intervention. In 2013, she completed the UConn Neag School of Education’s Executive Leadership Program. She holds a Master’s degree in Language and Literacy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and, prior to her current position, had 5 years of experience as a building-based leader (elementary assistant principal and principal) and 15 years of experience as an elementary school teacher and teacher-leader.
On top of her rich background in PreK-3 education, this will be Jones’ fourth year teaching in the PK-3 Leadership Program. According to Program Director Dr. Karen List, Jones is a fantastic fit for the program:
“Kerry understands adult learning. Helping educators focus on what is important in their unique setting requires a laser focus on each individual. Kerry brings this quality along with her vast expertise and enthusiasm.”
According to Jones, “Equity is a through line throughout the whole PK-3 program, and certainly the Curriculum and Instruction module.” For PreK-3 educators, said Jones, equitable instruction means a whole range of things, from dynamic learning environment design to developmentally-appropriate learning progressions to targeted allocation of resources to where needs are greatest. Jones said that the PK-3 Leadership Program’s small group cohort model allows for authentic conversations about the challenges of implementing and sustaining quality, equitable PK-3 education.
One of the program’s most valuable offerings, said Jones, is the opportunity to widen the tapestry of support with other educator-leaders. “Leaders in the PK-3 program gain a foundation and meaningful connection with educators across Connecticut,” said Jones. She noted that in her own career those connections and mentors who “both strengthen you and provide the tough advice when you need it” have been invaluable.
Effective leadership at the PreK-3 level is crucial, said Jones. “If you’re just going from fire to fire to fire, you’ll end up burnt out. You have to step away and look at things systemically, strategically.” The 2018-2019 PK-3 Leadership Program creates a space to balance the micro and the macro, said Jones. “It inspires educational leaders to facilitate reflection, dialogue, and action within their own settings and communities.”