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Two Minnesota Educators, Mother and Son, Making a Difference!

Each month, Kinect solicits and collects nominations from educators, for educators from across the nation.

This month, we are proud to honor two educators, a mother and son, Valarie McWilliams- Jones (279) and Keenan Jones (287), who are making a difference, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Valarie McWilliams-Jones (279) has been an educator in Minnesota for more than 20 years. Serving in various roles and now as a Special Education Teacher at Park Center High School, she believes that every student has a hidden talent. Aspiring to one day put her Principal's Licensure to use in an administrative role, McWilliams-Jones finds passion in her work directly with students in the classroom; a value she passed onto her son, Keenan Jones.

Keenan (287), a North Junior High language and literature teacher, was recently rewarded the title of District Life Changer for Hopkins School District. Once when asked why he chose a career in education, responded, “there is no profession in the world, that has a greater impact on youth than education. For 6-7 hours a day, we can use our influence to support youth in their discovery of social justice, critical thinking, intercultural communication, and most importantly provide context for what it means to be a good citizen.”

Both have recently accepted opportunities to expand their impact beyond the classroom. Valarie McWilliams-Jones (279) was recently accepted into the Minnesota Educator’s Academy Anti-Racism Program; FIRE. FIRE stands for Facing Inequities and Racism in Education. This program seeks to inspire educators from across the state to use their voice to advocate for racial justice.

Jones (287) was recently appointed to serve as a member of the Children’s Cabinet Advisory Council for the State of Minnesota. This appointment is made by Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Penny Flanagan.

For nominators, these two, resemble the spirit of the late Rita Pierson, a 40-year educator, who published one of the most viewed TED talks.

Pierson once shared, “teaching and learning should bring joy. How powerful would our world be if we had kids who were not afraid to take risks, who were not afraid to think, and who had a champion? Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”

Please join us in congratulating these two as our Top Notch Tuesday educators this month!

Each month, we select an educator for out Top Notch Tuesday Award.

Nominate an Equity Champion for this award and if selected, you'll both get a special training tool kit!

Kinect Education Group is a national organization that provides equity, inclusion and diversity training, climate studies and training tools for educational, corporate and non-profit organizations. This prestigious award is given monthly to recognize outstanding educators working on equity and inclusion.

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