Chris Jones is a man full of ideas.
He’s been sharing those with the Thomas Dale High School students and parents recently. Jones replaces Pam Lumsden, who retired after serving as principal the past seven years.
A Virginia Beach native, Jones comes to Chester after six years as an Army Ranger and 11 years in education as a math teacher, professional development specialist and principal, mostly in Virginia Beach.
“I love the diverse student body,” he said of Thomas Dale. With his military background, he also likes the fact that the 2,400-student school has a junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program.
Some of his ideas include using spaces in hallways and courtyards for instruction.
“I want every space to be a learning space,” he said. He would like to remove lockers and put benches in the hallways with charging stations close by, for example.
Noting that the 300/400 hallway section has been roped off due to the presence of a Knight mascot, Jones said wants to put some couches, bar-high tables and bar stools there.
“I want the building to be welcoming … so it feels like home and is exciting,” he said.
He would also like to see students grow vegetables in raised gardens and have environmental labs in a greenhouse.
In addition, he wants each student to have at least one teacher or staff member to go to when in crisis or when wanting to share good news.
He wants to make some different offerings available in the school’s seventh-period enrichment time and plans to publish a monthly parent newsletter as well.
At a meet-and-greet July 18 at the Stoney Glen subdivision, he spent much of the time answering questions. In response to a student’s question about displaying more art on the school’s two campuses, Jones said he favors it. “We have thousands and thousands of ceiling tiles, so let’s decorate them,” he said.
Upcoming meet-and-greets are: 6 p.m., Aug. 7 at Greenleigh Trailer Park; 6:30 p.m., Aug. 9 at Greenleigh Learning Cottage; 6:30 p.m., Aug. 16 at Broadwater Apartments.
School board member Carrie Coyner is excited about Jones. “The Thomas Dale community is blessed to get a great leader who is focused on building trust, communication and relationships with students, staff, families and our greater community,” she said. “I cannot wait for everyone in Chester to meet Dr. Jones, as it is impossible to not get fired up about our Knights when you hear his joy and excitement!”
Jones is an adjunct faculty member at George Washington University and a board member for the Virginia Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development.
He and his wife have four children. He can be followed on Twitter