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Principal of the Year Honor Goes to Weems’ Dr. Jones

April 28, 2021 -- Manassas City Public Schools has named Dr. Zella Jones, principal of Weems Elementary School, as the division winner of The Washington Post Principal of the Year Award. Weems teacher Mrs. Patricia Smith was announced as the division’s Teacher of the Dr. JonesYear award recipient. The two were nominated by their peers and were recognized during the School Board of the City of Manassas’ meeting on April 27, 2021. The Washington Post sponsors the awards annually, recognizing educators around the Washington region that illustrate excellence in their roles, promote exceptional education and contribute toward student success through their dedication and service.

Dr. Zella Jones has been an educator for more than 40 years. She began teaching in 1979, and has been with Manassas City Public Schools since 1982. Jones had 20 years’ experience as a teacher at Jennie Dean Elementary and Metz Middle School before transitioning into administration. Before accepting her current position, she served as assistant principal of Osbourn High School and both the assistant principal and principal of Jennie Dean Elementary.

She received her bachelor’s from James Madison University, master’s from George Mason University and doctorate from Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

As principal of Weems Elementary, Jones oversees the division’s only uniformed school. Weems is also a Talents and Gifts (TAG) themed school, which provides students talent development and engagement opportunities through enrichment clusters.

Superintendent Dr. Kevin Newman said Manassas City Public Schools is proud to have Dr. Jones as a member of its family, noting her quiet leadership and dedication to her community.

Outside of school walls, she continues to use her educational leadership skills. Jones is an active member in her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and a leader at her church, First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Manassas. She worked with both organizations to design and create programs giving minority students more opportunities to succeed. Jones is co-chair of Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence (EMBODI) and both a facilitator and mentor for African Sisters Proud, Intelligent, Respected, Excelling (ASPIRE). Both programs help mentor youth.

In 2020, Jones was named the recipient of the Virginia Education Association’s Mary Hatwood Futrell Award for Distinguished Leadership in Education for fostering equality in educational opportunity and promoting equity and excellence in public education in Virginia.

Jones at SB meetingTeachers in her building respect Jones for her exceptional leadership and Weems families appreciate her desire to keep them engaged in their child’s education.

In a letter nominating her for the award one teacher wrote, “A unique attribute of Dr. Jones’ leadership style is that she listens more than she speaks.” She said Jones models for the community how to lead with respect and compassion.

As part of professional development the past year, Dr. Jones has put an emphasis on the self-care and self-reflection of teachers. She has encouraged her staff to take care of their physical, intellectual emotional and spiritual/social (PIES) needs, understanding that a healthy staff is better prepared to bring their best to the students daily.

As part of her planning for the school year, Dr. Jones develops a budget with teacher development in mind. She encourages her staff to attend conferences and trainings and further their education, while requiring teachers to share their new knowledge with their peers. She has created a “coaching culture” at Weems with specialists in reading, math and science help teachers create goals and improve their instruction.

Jones is a strong proponent of education and has acted toward making quality education accessible for all. She has used her career as an educator to not only impact the future of her students but to impact the greater community.