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Shelley E. Jones

August 1, 1939 — May 10, 2024

M.A., The University of Alabama, 1966. Elementary Education. 

B.A., University of Kentucky, 1961. Elementary Education. 

Shelley Jones retired in 1995 as a principal after 34 years in public school. However, Jones is hardly retired. She continues to remain an advocate for education in her community and in Alabama. 

Shelley was an elementary school teacher from 1961 to 1965 before earning her master’s in elementary education and then earning the post-master’s requirements to become principal. She began as principal at Woodland Forrest Elementary School in 1974. Her guiding educational philosophy for nurturing her students is the strong belief that children need strong roots and wings to support them. She worked to foster a lifelong love of learning by offering students an abundance of extracurricular opportunities to complement the basics. During her tenure, after-school enrichment options included classes in Japanese, karate, gymnastics, computers, and chess. She also had artists-in-residence at her school who focused on the visual arts, instrumental music, and theater. 

Shelley was noted by the Library of Congress as Alabama’s 1993 recipient of the National Distinguished Principals Award, which recognizes innovation and a commitment to seeing each new school year as an opportunity to elevate instruction to a new level of excellence. 

In the community, she was selected for Leadership Tuscaloosa (1989) and Leadership Alabama (2003) and later asked to serve on the Board of Leadership Alabama. Shelley has been (and continues to be on) over a dozen boards that serve the community such as the Tuscaloosa City Schools Education Foundation Board, the Community Foundation of West Alabama, Hospice of West Alabama, and the Mayor’s Task Force for Pre-K Program Planning, to name a few. 

Jones was inducted into the Tuscaloosa County Civic Hall of Fame (2010); as a pillar of the community by the Community Foundation of West Alabama (2007); Tuscaloosa County Citizen of the Year (2006); State PTA Outstanding Elementary Principal of the Year (1989); and Tombigbee Girl Scouts Outstanding Educator Award (1990), among other honors. 

Shelley was appointed a City Board of Education member in 1997. And when the decision was made to elect school board members, Shelley was overwhelmingly elected by the voters as the at-large Chairman of the Board. She became the first female to chair the Board of Education in its 119-year history. 

In every position that Shelley has held, she has focused on the well being of students, insuring that their education will provide them with opportunities throughout their lifetime. She has been a faithful messenger for educational values in her community involvement and service. Shelley Jones has distinguished herself in everything she has done. 

Jones currently teaches in the Honors College at The University of Alabama, which she has been doing since 2010. And her students continue to adore her.