Collaboration: The Key to Unlocking the Door to Success

Given the gigantic scope of CEEDAR’s mission, it is necessary to have partners with a variety of backgrounds. The perspectives of administrators at the district, state, and federal levels are essential. Although all of these pieces are necessary, it is rare that one person’s story encompasses all of them—but Bonnie Jones’ story is not typical.

Dr. Jones got married a year out of college, just as her husband was graduating from the United States Coast Guard Academy. Frequent relocations during his 30-year tenure gave Dr. Jones continued opportunities to work in a variety of settings. Dr. Jones says, “I knew I only would have a few years to make a difference each time I moved.” For this reason, she never settled into her career, which has been marked by both diversity and perseverance.

Driven early in her teaching career by a desire to serve others, Dr. Jones found special education to be a fascinating and challenging field, and she was fortunate to pursue diverse paths to influence the field of special education. She worked in Maine, Ohio, Hawaii, Florida, Virginia, and Kansas. She started as a classroom teacher and moved into many terrific positions as she traversed the United States.

Not only did Dr. Jones have the chance to participate in a variety of ventures, but she also excelled in each one. Early in her career, she was awarded the honor of Vocational Educator of the Year in Hawaii. By the time she had finished working at the state level in Kansas, she had helped to launch the first follow-up data collection system on students with disabilities, pushed through legislation to require vocational assessments for all students with disabilities for their transition plans, and directed two federally funded grants.

Fueled by an interest in systems change, Dr. Jones began her doctoral studies with an emphasis on urban education and school reform at Columbia University in New York. Although she would have never imagined she would work for the federal government, she was encouraged in 2007 to apply for a position with the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in DC and has been working with OSEP ever since. She has also shared her passion for serving others through systems change as an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and George Mason University in DC.

Dr. Jones’ broad array of experiences allows her to understand the complexity of CEEDAR’s mission. In her role as project officer, she oversees CEEDAR’s expansive scope of work. She thinks one of CEEDAR’s greatest accomplishments to date is the degree to which CEEDAR professionals have been able to incorporate
evidence-based practices (EBPs) into a rigorous body of knowledge that is universally available.

Upon reflecting on her career, Dr. Jones especially appreciates the influence of Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond while she was at Columbia University (Dr. Darling-Hammond is now at Stanford University). Dr. Darling-Hammond stressed the importance of understanding the general education context in order to be an effective special educator.
Dr. Jones also has several non-work-related goals on the near horizon. Throughout 2015, she plans to focus on a healthy lifestyle that centers on an active physical exercise program. She also wants to take Spanish classes this year. Gracias, Dra. Jones por su experticia en este proyecto y su influencia en la disciplina de educación!

Dr. Bonnie Jones

Dr. Bonnie Jones

Dr. Jones has had a distinguished career spanning numerous roles and half dozen states. Her love for helping people and affecting systems change propelled her from a classroom in Pensacola to a building a couple subway stops from the White House.

*The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the positions or polices of the U.S. Department of Education. No official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any product, commodity, service, or enterprise mentioned in this website is intended or should be inferred.