Dr. Valerie Free Jones, chair of Ohio Christian University’s Department of Teacher Education, has been recognized as Faculty Member of the Year for 2017-18.
Jones was awarded her doctorate in education, specializing in curriculum and instruction, from Marshall University in 2017. Her dissertation on “The Whole Building is a Classroom: An Oral History of the School’s Role in the Culture of the Community” featured the well-known McClain High School in Greenfield from which she graduated in 1995.
The daughter of Chuck and Sandy Free of Frankfort, Jones earned her Bachelor of Science in Education cum laude at Ohio University, and her Master of Arts in Teaching at Marygrove College, with a thesis on the varied learning style of high school seniors. Jones began her tenure at OCU in 2015 as assistant professor of education and department chair. She is licensed to teach English in grades 7-10 in Ohio public schools.
Jones has received a number of awards and honors including being chosen to contribute to a roundtable discussion group for the local newspaper to discuss educational concerns with legislators and members of the Ohio Department of Education and being chosen to attend a strategic planning session with Ohio Department of Education concerning a new education plan for Ohio schools. Currently, she has an article “Spinning the Standardizes Plates” being reviewed for publication at Education Week.
Jones has assumed leadership responsibilities that distinguish her for this award: served as department chair, designed new programs for state and national accreditation, managed and worked with faculty involved with education of preservice teachers, organized and conducted biannual meetings of the University’s Teacher Education Advisory Council, chaired the assessment committee, and served on the curriculum, retention, and academic committees.
Also, Jones assisted in constructing a Master’s of Education degree for the Adult Graduate Studies, instructed ACT prep courses for potential and current students, designed four new AYA programs and a K-12 Mild/Moderate Intervention Specialist program approved by the Ohio Department of Education, began a partnership with the International School in Tegucigalpa, Honduras in which student teachers can complete clinical hours abroad, and organized Trauma Informed Care Training for 150 teachers and administrators in 10 Ohio counties.
Jones’s extracurricular contributions included participating in Propel Ohio, being a member of the university’s Student Success, Higher Learning Commission Core Component, Strategic Planning, Library, University Objectives, and Faculty Promotion committees. She organized on-campus Trauma Informed Care Training and Opiate Training for Educators in 2018.
Jones and her husband, Van, married for 20 years, live on their family farm near Chillicothe, raising 400 head of Angus beef cattle, soybeans, corn and produce. Their four children are Morgan, married to Cody, who have a State Farm office near Cincinnati; Grace, a University of Kentucky freshman majoring in Agriculture Education and minoring in Animal Science; Stella, an eighth grader; and CJ a fifth grader. Jones’ hobbies are singing in her church choir and reading.
This story is reprinted with permission from Dave Ditmars, communications director, Ohio Christian University.