SHOWELL – After 41 years of service in Worcester County Schools, Showell Elementary School (SES) Principal Paula Jones will retire from her post in June.
“It was very tough to make the decision to retire because everything is going great,” said Jones. “I’d rather leave when things are going great than when things are not good.”
Jones was born and raised in Worcester County and is a product of the school system she has taught in for more than four decades.
“I went to Stephen Decatur High School and was valedictorian there. I went on to Salisbury University, of course, then it was Salisbury State Teachers College, and started teaching,” she said.
Her career in education started with two years teaching kindergarten, followed by several years teaching first grade, before she moved into administration when SES was established.
“I helped open Showell in 1976, and I’ve been here since 1976,” said Jones.
She has spent over 30 years at SES, first as curriculum planner, then as assistant principal and has been principal for the last eight years.
“I loved working with people of all ages,” Jones said of her decision to enter the administration side of education. “I loved working with the community. I felt I could bring all that together in a very effective school.”
SES has seen some challenges, like a school evacuation prompted by a gas leak, and some high achievements, during Jones’ tenure: the school was named a Maryland Blue Ribbon School in 2004 and a National Blue Ribbon School in 2005.
“That’s what I had hoped for, that we would get that. That was a major goal for me,” Jones said.
The school also earned accreditation for growth in 2004.
Forty-one years of education has seen technology improve and increase, and families form around single and divorced parents, but education’s requirements and challenges have changed little, according to Jones.
“Children’s needs are very similar,” Jones said. “It’s still reading and math and high expectations. Our goals are still that our kids will be the best … the child is still the center of our existence. We have worked to make each child the best they can be.”
SES Assistant Principal Diane Shorts will step into Jones’ shoes, an appointment that was confirmed recently by the Board of Education. Shorts has held the SES assistant principal’s position for eight years.
“I’m very pleased about that, that she’s going to take over the helm,” Jones said.
SES second grade teacher Aaron Dale will take over the assistant principal’s spot as Shorts moves up to principal.
“I’m very happy about that. He’s been here around 12 years and knows the people and community and staff,” said Jones. “I feel like I’m leaving it all in good hands.”
After 33 years at SES, retirement will bring big changes for Jones.
“It’s like a new adventure. I’m planning my adventure as I go,” she said.
Jones plans an active retirement of travel, tour guiding and volunteer work. She also plans to get into sketching and oil painting, to learn to play golf, to redo her house, and most importantly, to spend more time with her five grandchildren.
Her first trip after retirement will take her to Bar Harbor, Maine, with her grandchildren, for rock climbing and whale watching.
Her last day as SES principal will be June 30.
“It will be tough leaving all of the people and kids,” Jones said.