Mariah Jones '19 has made her mark in education with remarkable speed.
In fall 2019, just a few months after earning a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Pfeiffer University, she began teaching sixth grade math at Northwest Cabarrus Middle School in her native Concord. Northwest recently named her its Beginning Teacher of the Year. As such, she’s a nominee for a similar statewide award of the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching.
Jones “has already become an integral part of our school family in her first year,” said Anna Blessington, the principal of Northwest. “Ms. Jones has developed excellent rapport and relationships with her students as well as her colleagues – both in the classroom as a teacher and on the court as a basketball coach.”
Jones credits Pfeiffer for putting her in a position to succeed at Northwest. During her time as a student, she developed as an education leader through her service as a STEM camp instructor and through her presentations at multiple state conferences and at the National Science Teachers Association conference.
Through Pfeiffer, Jones gained practical experience by student-teaching at Bethel Elementary School in Midland. She fulfilled practicum requirements each week as an observer at East Albemarle Elementary School, learning much about managing a classroom and developing a rapport with students.
“The time I spent at East Albemarle was a true learning experience that I’ll always value in my heart,” Jones said.
Jones called being named Beginning Teacher of the Year “a really big deal for me” and added that “it feels amazing to be recognized for all of the effort that I put into my first year teaching.”
That effort made for a busy schedule. It included everything from planning lessons late at night to participating in various aspects of professional development.
Northwest paired Jones with a mentor who was also a sixth grade math teacher at Northwest; the two met weekly to share ideas and took part in the same professional learning community.
Jones participated in multiple professional development sessions that Karl Sain, a secondary math specialist of Cabarrus County, offered for beginning secondary mathematics teachers.
“With the training spanning over the course of the year, I was able to develop new skills, implement them in my classroom, and then report back with the other teachers in the training on how the skill could be improved or adapted,” Jones said.
To top it all off, Jones took online classes for a Master of Science in Education from Pfeiffer, which she expects to earn in August. Her research has focused on how to effectively implement hybrid learning in a middle school mathematics classroom.
“With this research, my hope is to develop a plan where I can teach all of my students in my classroom and get them to perform at or above grade level,” Jones said. “I will do this by limiting whole group instruction and focusing on small group instruction. Teaching in small groups will allow me to differentiate more and better help my students become successful.”