Join us in congratulating James Jones, Richland School District’s 2024 Crystal Apple Award Winner!
When Mr. Jones joined the Richland School District as Hanford High’s choir director, the school only had one choir. Now in his tenth year of helping students discover their musical passions at Hanford, his program has six choirs–one of the largest in Tri-Cities.
Mr. Jones works tirelessly with 200 choir students daily. He has the rare talent of letting students know he deeply cares and values them while also holding them accountable for their attitudes and efforts.
“Through the inclusion of many different musical cultures and styles, and just the person he is, Mr. Jones cultivated my love for music and continues to be a positive influence in my life,” said Hanford High graduate Jesse Gervais. “I am just so grateful.”
But his devotion to students doesn’t stop with high schoolers. Every summer, Mr. Jones spends two weeks directing 60-80 eager middle school students at Hanford High School’s musical theater camp. During the school year, he invites middle schoolers to perform alongside his high school students during concerts increasing their musical confidence and passion.
“Mr. Jones’ legacy will span the generations,” said Hanford High teacher Matthew Leggett. “He not only invites middle schoolers into the world of musical theatre, but mentors high school students into becoming coaches, several of whom have decided to become music educators.”
Since Mr. Jones joined the staff at Hanford High, he not only transformed the choir program but has made a lasting impact on the school’s performing arts. Mr. Jones has directed four musical productions and served as the vocal director to several drama performances.
In 2017, he was honored with the Outstanding Music Direction award by the 5th Avenue Theatre for his work with Hanford’s production of Roger and Hammerstein’s South Pacific. His choirs and students have also received countless awards for their musical talents.
Despite the recognitions, Mr. Jones’ focus stays on his students, something that is noticed by his colleagues, students and their families.
“Mr. Jones knows how to form meaningful connections with his students,” says Hanford High parent Katie Geldmacher. “He has been a major contributor in building my children’s confidence, teaching them the value of hard work and expanding their musical skills and knowledge.”
Mr. Jones will receive his Crystal Apple Award at the Educational Service District (ESD) 123 Professional Development Center in Pasco at 4:30 p.m. on March 7.
The Crystal Apple Award is presented to teachers in and around the Tri-Cities by ESD 123. The award honors educators who have a positive impact on the lives and futures of students. Each district may nominate one teacher to receive the award each year. As Richland School District’s Crystal Apple winner, Mr. Jones is also a nominee for the State Teacher of the Year award.