By Taylor Boyd
Caroline Jones said it is hard for her to know the specific challenges facing the school division. However, she believes that communication and transparency between the school system and parents is one of the biggest opportunities for growth.
Jones, 38, is seeking the Smith River District seat on the Patrick County School Board in the November election. She is challenging incumbent Walter Scott.
“I think our communication lines need to be stronger. I’m a pretty open book, and if people ask, I am willing to share my knowledge of the situation with them,” she said.
Jones said the school board must be transparent and open with concerned members of the public, and she knows firsthand how that makes parents feel.
“It makes you feel involved, it makes you feel heard, and a value of trust. I definitely plan on being transparent to give those feelings to other parents,” she said.
Public involvement also is important when making decisions.
“To include the residents of the community, again it’s communication. I’m a very vocal person and an active listener, and I reach out,” she said.
Jones said that if she is elected, she will use community events that she is currently involved in to help gain insight from residents, as well as using social media to include residents in decision making.
“I’m not looking at being a school board member for my personal views. I’m looking at it to be a voice for the community, parents, and staff, not to go get my personal way,” she said.
Jones also believes that COVID-19 is still a challenge because many parents are concerned about the impact the pandemic has had on students mentally and academically.
“I think we need to have continued conversations, both ways, and we need the support and the feedback from the board,” she said.
County schools excel at academics and have a strong academic record, she said.
“Our county has been known for many years for having a good education system, for having great teachers and staff, for having good grades and achieving state standards,” she said.
However, Jones also feels that academics is an area that needs more attention since COVID-19 impacted the grades of many youngsters, including her own.
“From a parent’s standpoint, that’s where I would say Patrick County is struggling right now. I can see firsthand how the COVID pandemic has impacted the education system of my children,” she said.
Jones said she can’t begin to imagine the struggles teachers went through in having to change the way they taught and change it quickly.
“So, I can see how students have backslide with their academics,” she said.
As a mother, Jones also is vested in the success of the school system.
“I’m invested not just for a year or two, my youngest is in first grade. So, I’m invested in this school system for the success of not just my children but the children of our community and the children of our county,” she said.
Jones does not support Critical Race Theory (CRT) being taught in classrooms and said she would oppose it. She is also an advocate for choice and does not support a mask mandate or a vaccine mandate.
Jones said her more than 16 years of experience in a leadership and management position will help earn the support of voters.
“I’ve been a manager of people and a manager of processes. I’m a teacher and trainer through my job with Walmart over multiple facilities, and I’ve been over as many as 30 stores at a time,” she said, adding that she also helps manage the money and profitability of those stores.
She also has worked through COVID-19 and ensured efficient sanitary practices and safety guidelines were enforced.
Jones said she is looking forward to the opportunity to serve her district and feels honored to have the support from the community she has so far.
“I really hope that I have earned the trust and the faith to be the next school board member for the Smith River District,” she said.
Jones currently works for Walmart as an Asset Protection Operations Lead. She graduated from Patrick County High School in 2001 and from Surry Community College in 2006 with an associate degree in early childhood development.
Jones has been married to her high school sweetheart, Jeremy, for 16 ½ years. The couple have two daughters, Analeigh and Maelynn, a 6th grader and a 1st grader at Woolwine Elementary School.
In her spare time, Jones enjoys spending time with her daughters outdoors, hiking, running, and gardening. The couple also go to craft vendors shows on the weekend to sell their woodwork.