#MNPSVoices: Alvin Jones, Executive Director of Discipline
Alvin E. Jones serves as executive director of discipline for Metro Nashville Public schools. Although his title may sound intimidating, that could not be further from the truth. In fact, Jones and his assistant directors are committed to restorative discipline more than punitive. As a new approach for the district, Jones’ department has a dual goal of due process and restoration – and it is the biggest change he has seen in the district over his 40-year career.
“I think the district is much more sensitive to the individual needs of children than it has been in the past,” Jones said. “I think we have started looking more at the things necessary for a student to be successful on an individual basis.”
Jones, along with his directors, are committed to working with every assistant principal on compliance, within the handbook guidelines, while reviewing each child’s individual circumstance. This allows for “better outcomes for students by exploring alternatives,” he said.
One can feel Jones’ passion when he talks about his team and their work.
“When you go back and look at the actual meaning of discipline it comes from the word disciple,” Jones said. “Disciple means to go back and teach – to train. We want to do more teaching and training with less disciplinary because the bottom line is all these kids are going to grow up and we have a hand in shaping what that’s going to look like – that’s the important part.”
Jones can see how his team’s new approach has had a positive impact on student outcomes. Student success is the department’s main priority. He firmly believes you cannot use a cookie cutter approach to serving students’ needs. He takes the necessary steps to review student files and ask the difficult question: “why?” This prevents recidivism and aids in their success in reaching high school graduation.
“There are some kids who have just made a bad decision, and I hate to see someone’s life get turned upside down and be defined because they made one bad mistake,” Jones said. “There are times when I have been able to help kids go on and get their diploma and put them in positions where they can be successful.”
While retirement from the district is on the horizon for Jones, he has no definitive plans to pursue it at this time. He believes he still has much more to do and much more to give in serving children and having a lasting impact on their lives.