Behind the Scenes
From the Basketball Court to the Principal’s Office: Empowering Students to Be the Best They Can Be
When I was five years old, I wanted to be a professional soccer player and score goals like the all-time great Pelé. When I was nine years old, I decided I wanted to be a professional baseball player and be like back-to-back MVP award winner Dale Murphy. By 12, I dreamed of playing in the NBA. I don’t think I ever stopped wanting to be a professional basketball player, but around my first year in college, I set my sights on becoming an elementary school teacher.
My love for sports, and the lessons that I learned through athletics, helped shape my identity and how I approach and navigate life. Traits like hard work, determination, maintaining a positive attitude, practice, goal setting, being receptive to feedback, amplifying personal strengths, resilience, and teamwork are all necessary to be a part of a team. I strived to foster each of these traits in every student whom I had the pleasure to teach.
My mission as a teacher was to help students be their personal best and reach their potential. As the all-time great UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said so eloquently, “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
I dedicated my life to helping students become their best selves.
Academic AND Life Skills
I loved being an educator and a principal at an elementary school. I got to spend time teaching students academic content and skills, as well as life and career skills, during a formative stage in their lives. My hope was, if students built a strong foundation in both hard and soft skills, then they would carry these lessons with them. They’d move on from my classroom and their school to live fulfilling lives doing what they loved.
The BrainPOP Mission
After 25 years in public education, I was ready to do what I always encouraged my students to do: Keep learning, keep growing, get out of your comfort zone, and get the most out of life. My personal mission to empower students to reach their potential became a guiding principle as I explored new professional opportunities beyond the classroom and school setting. That led me to BrainPOP, whose mission is to empower kids to shape the world around them and within them.
It was important to me to work for a company that builds students’ confidence and helps prepare them for a successful future. As an educator, I was familiar with BrainPOP. I knew that it offers a rare educational combination: impactful resources that help students gain academic skills, while simultaneously building the social and emotional and interpersonal skills they will need to thrive in the classroom, in their future careers, and in an unpredictable world.
BrainPOP is able to amplify what students need to learn by making information comprehensible for all students. It simultaneously makes learning fun and allows students to deepen their learning by providing a variety of ways for them to demonstrate their knowledge.
And remember those qualities that I mentioned earlier, which I learned from playing sports? BrainPOP has movies on topics like Determination, Setting Goals, Listening and Speaking, and Conflict Resolution, which can help our students thrive in all facets of their lives.
When I was a teacher, I tried to make a positive impact on the lives of the students in my class. When I was a principal, I tried to make a positive impact on an entire school. Now, as an employee of BrainPOP, I hope to make a positive impact on the lives of many students, in schools everywhere, by empowering them to shape their world.
Jerry Jones is a senior account director at BrainPOP. Before joining the company, he spent more than two decades serving as an elementary school educator and school principal.