THOMAS – “There is niceness in every person you meet,” Gaye Jones says. “Sometimes you just have to look for it and pull it out of them.”
These are wise words from the lady who has been holding things together for 11 years at Snake River Junior High School and has worked through numerous administration changes at the school.
Through no fault of those principals, most moved on to accept positions at other places, including last year’s principal who was just hired by the Firth School District as their new superintendent, and Roger Thomas, currently the principal at Blackfoot High School.
“Each of those principals had their own strengths and they had their own goals and ways of running a school,” Jones said. “They all worked well in their own way and each one was successful or they wouldn’t have moved to better positions.”
Rich Dunn is the new principal at Snake River Junior High and he only had to move a couple of hundred yards from his previous job as the assistant principal at Snake River High School. His rapport with the students and ability to work through any difficult situation are strengths that he brings to the junior high school.
“Mr. Dunn brings so much to the junior high school this fall,” Jones said. “He makes us all stronger, including that bridge between the two schools. He is a wonderful man and principal.”
These are the types of things that flow easily from Gaye Jones when she speaks about anyone, everything comes out as a compliment from her and heaps praise on anyone whose name is mentioned. It is quite possible that Mrs. Jones has never met a person that she didn’t like, or that she didn’t think she could bring the niceness out of a person, no matter how grumpy or mean they might seem.
Mrs. Jones has been with the junior high school for 11 years, but she has been affiliated with the school for closer to 20 years as she served as a substitute teacher before applying for and accepting the position as the secretary of the junior high school.
She loves the interaction she has with the students and teachers and staff at the school and tries to make each of them have their best day ever after their encounter at the counter.
“I just think that people work harder if they feel good,” Jones said. “I just try and let them know that they are good and that they are appreciated. Everyone loves to hear that, especially if they are having a bad day. Sometimes it can turn their day around and then the magical things can happen.”
In her own way, Gaye Jones might just be the magic that happens. She is constantly speaking well of people and things and goes above and beyond the call of duty to keep a smile on everyone’s face.
Sometimes it is nothing more than just being there for the kids with a piece of candy or a kind word for a student that has a frown on their face. Sometimes it is the handcrafted gift that she makes and gives to a teacher who has had a rough time of things lately. Jones is famous for making a poster card with a candy bar or treat glued to it that always seems to bright someone’s day. Sometimes it is nothing more than lending a hand in the kitchen and helping them serve meals to the school during the lunch break each day.
Gaye Jones has a hand in everything at the junior high and her efforts leave an imprint on all who she touches, each and every day.
Often times, Gaye is the first one to arrive each day and needless to say, she is nearly always one of the last to leave each night. There are times when students need to be ushered out of the hallway to catch a bus and it is only because they all want to make sure they tell her goodbye at the end of a day.
“The kids are so special and valuable to us here at Snake River Junior High,” Jones said. “I love that they want to see me before they go home and it is just special that they act like they belong, because they do and we are a big family here at the school.”
She isn’t just highly thought of by the students, but by everyone she comes in contact with at the junior high.
“Mrs. Jones is the best lady without a doubt,” Dunn said. “It all starts with her and spreads throughout the school on a daily basis. She makes things happen at Snake River Junior High and there isn’t a single person who doesn’t love her and what she brings to the school.”
Mrs. Jones is not just a person who occupies a desk at SRJHS. She is the person who answers the phone and directs parents to the right avenues around the school to get in contact with teachers or their own children, she directs delivery people to where they need to go and she is there with a shoulder to lean on when a teacher or staff member needs one. She is like the mother or grandmother to the entire school.
Gaye Jones is a Blackfoot area native, having gone to school at Snake River High School as did her husband, although they didn’t know each other when they were both in school at Snake River High School.
They lived in Blackfoot after they were married and moved into the Snake River School District when they started to build a family.
First came five daughters and they finished things off with a son for a total of six children that they raised and all of them are still a very close family. The children all went through the Snake River School District and have become successful in their own right.
“All of my kids are good, kind people, the youngest of them is in post-graduate work at the University of Arizona,” Jones said. “Of course they have all become busy with their own families and they have blessed us with 26 grandkids along the way. Three of them are currently students at the junior high, so that is just another blessing that we have all enjoyed.”
When you look at the trials and tribulations that occur in a school district, nothing has hit home as much as COVID-19 has hit the school district this year. It has affected all of the school districts in the Blackfoot area, so Snake River is not excluded by the effects of the virus.
“We have such great leadership in this district, from the school administrators like Mr. Dunn here and Mr. Carter at the high school to our new superintendent, Mark Kress,” Jones said. “They have all provided us with great leadership and they have been able to just take things one day at a time. There is a lot to be said for that and every one of them has been great to work with.”
How can you not love a lady like this, so willing to give 100% of themselves to make things better for everyone around them.