For 24 of his 38 years in education, Richard Jones was employed as a teacher, coach, and principal at North Farmington High School in suburban Detroit—but what he did there reached far beyond any of those job expectations. An innovative and out-of-the-box thinker, Jones implemented programs that energized and inspired not only his own students and teachers, but the Farmington community and other educators across the country. Upon his retirement in 2011, North Farmington High School’s main building was renamed the Richard B. Jones Academic Center. The school’s athletic campus is also named in his honor.
Jones’ legacy includes his implementation of school year “themes” that involved students, teachers, parents, and the community in exploration of social justice issues through numerous interdisciplinary activities. Environmentalism and sustainability, civil rights, and the revitalization of Detroit were among the topics studied, with the goal of moving the students “from awareness to activism.” During the school’s yearlong examination of genocide, Jones was co-recipient of the Anne Frank Center USA’s Spirit of Anne Frank Outstanding Educator Award. Jones and North Farmington joined forces with a high school in Danbury, Connecticut, together raising over $135,000 to build “Promise School” in Sudan as an activism project for the genocide study.
Not surprisingly, Jones has earned many awards for excellence, including four Teacher-of-the-Year honors; he is also a recipient of the Great Seal of Michigan, for his school’s efforts to pass a state divestiture bill regarding Sudan. He is Michigan’s 2008-09 High School Principal of the Year. Jones has been on the board of the Michigan Chapter of the National Football Foundation since 1995, and since 2004 has traveled to Mali, in West Africa, three times as a member of a medical team.
A Detroit native, Jones spent 14 years as a teacher and coach in Bay County, Florida, before moving to Farmington Hills. He earned a master’s degree in movement science and sports psychology from Florida State University, where he also studied school administration.
As a student at Albion, Jones played varsity baseball, was a member of Alpha Tau Omega, and founded Albion’s chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
He and his wife, Kathy, are the parents of Keely and Lauren, and live in Farmington Hills.