As a teenager, he didn’t yet know what exactly he wanted to do for a living, but he was certain he didn’t want to work on a farm the rest of his life.
Lucky for Ray Jones, the farmer he worked for during the summer of 1957 — just before his senior year of high school — was also a school principal.
The next summer, Jones was preparing for his freshman year at Indiana State University, where he soon realized he wanted to become a history teacher and coach sports. Fifty-eight years later, Jones received one of the state’s top awards, the Sagamore of the Wabash, honoring his 46-year career in education as a teacher, administrator and, most recently, a technology director.
“I don’t think I did anything outstanding,” Jones said. “This award is more about the opportunities the community of Franklin, and Franklin schools, has given me.”
Jones worked as principal at three different Franklin elementary schools for 28 years. When Jones left his post as principal at Union Elementary School, Franklin schools moved him into a new position as technology director, where he was in charge of everything from repairing and maintaining copying machines and phones to installing wireless infrastructure.
Jones kept the title as technology director for the next 13 years, until he retired in 2008.
But soon after he retired, Jones was looking for something to do to stay busy, so he started volunteering for the Indiana Retired Teacher’s Association, eventually joining the board. Jones handled all of the technology, and started a website for the organization, Jones said.
“When I got on the board, technology was chaos at the IRTA offices, so I took care of it,” Jones said.
For the last four years, Jones has been president of the Johnson County chapter of the Indiana Retired Teacher’s Association. Last month, the organization gave Jones an award for his contributions as president of the board. Then, Jones was asked to stay on stage, where he was given the Sagamore of the Wabash award, Jones said.
Jones and his wife, Goldie, who was also a teacher at Franklin schools where she worked for 37 years, are in the midst of moving to Milwaukee to be closer to their grandchildren, so the association wanted to honor Jones with the special award before he moved, Jones said.
“I look back on my life, and it’s been a good life,” Jones said. “The people who put me in this position are responsible for (my success). Thank you, Franklin community.”
Name: Ray Jones
From: Shelby County between Shelbyville and Franklin
Family: Wife, Goldie. Two children, Jay and Clint. Two grandchildren
Career highlights: 46 total years in education as an elementary teacher, principal, administrator and technology director at Franklin schools.