Jones’ Journey: Next year’s principal shares hopes to continue the school’s ‘great legacy’

Jones looks forward to start of new school year

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Photo Courtesy of Nicholas Jones

As he motivates the students, Nicholas Jones works to hype up the crowd at one of the annual pep rallies at Hays Middle School. Jones will be leaving Hays to become the principal for the 2022-23 school year at Prosper High School. “I am going to miss the kids,” Jones said. “I hired all of the staff (at Hays). I opened the school, so every single person there, I hired. That’s going to be a challenge to leave them.”

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This article was first published in the first Eagle Nation InPrint edition. 

From one legacy to another – Nicholas Jones will begin his next journey as the Prosper High principal for the 2022-23 school year. Jones took his first steps toward his new job as a child back in a New York public school – where he discovered his future from his mentor.

Jones will be joining the Prosper High School staff as the principal for the 2022-2023 school year. He will be leaving his current job as the principal at Hays Middle School, which he helped to open in 2019.

“New York public schools are way different than Texas public schools,” Jones said. “I had a teacher there that really helped me out when I was going through some things as a kid, and I remember thinking how much time he spent outside of work helping me.”

A past teacher’s influence made Jones realize his interest in the profession.

“I was good at high school football, but not good enough to do anything else after high school,” Jones said. “I wanted to stay connected to the game, so I kind of paired those two together, and I did teaching and coaching.”

In college, Jones got a degree in history and government. Now, he’s been in education for 20 years, and is ready to begin the 2022-23 year as the new principal of Prosper High School.

“I am really looking forward to when the football team plays Rock Hill,” Jones said. “I think that’s going to be a great week. I went to high school in Plano, so we had Plano and Plano East there, and I played football in high school. That week that we played Plano East was a huge week, and I think the first time we’re going to get to experience that here is going to be an amazing week. That will be a great way to start the fall.”

For the past three years, Jones has worked at Hays Middle School as principal. Throughout his time there, he said he’s had many “happy” moments – as well as challenges.

“Opening up a brand new building three years ago was really hard when you’re teaching and being an assistant principal,” Jones said. “You’re constantly working with kids and teachers, but in that mindset, you’re working with people that are building the building – how to get it open, how to get things fixed before it opens, grand ceremonies for the building when it opened.”

Hays Middle School started its first year in the fall of 2019. 

“That was a really big challenge. I enjoyed it a lot, but it was really hard because you’re getting ready for the year, but you’re also opening up a brand new campus, so you’re hiring everybody there,” Jones said. “There are no employees except you when you start. It’s really challenging, and I enjoyed it a ton. But, it was a huge challenge.”

Jones said his happiest moments as a principal, though, also occurred while he was experiencing all of those new school challenges.

Pullquote Photo

I can’t wait to see the great things that are going to happen at PHS with Mr. Jones as principal.”

— Dr. John Burdett, Principal

“(It was) the first middle school opened up in Prosper in 15 years, I think,” Jones said. “Because they had Reynolds and Rogers for forever, and that was the first middle school they opened in a long time. Brand new, super awesome – but definitely a big time challenge.”

Jones worked at Rogers Middle School as an assistant principal for four years before moving to Hays. 

“You have to have good people around you right, so hiring good assistant principals is really important because a lot of the times they will look at things differently than you will, and they are able to give you some advice,” Jones said. “The tough part is when you’re in charge of that is to make sure you listen to that advice. Sometimes when you’re in charge of things, or you get to lead things, you forget to listen to people who really know what they are doing, and you have to rely on them. When there is a challenge at work, you got to remember you have people around you and thats a huge bonus here. We have really, really talented individuals here that you get to work with everyday.”

Jones taught history and coached football at PHS in the beginning of his career. 

“I was super excited when I coached here and worked here,” Jones said. “It was the best time of my life. I loved coaching football, and I loved teaching here. I love the environment. I also love that it is a gigantic school because the bigger the school, you get to do bigger things. Our plan coming in is to do really big, cool fun things for kids the whole time we are here. I couldn’t be more excited coming back to PHS.”

Building close relationships with each student is one of the most important things for Jones. 

“As a teacher, you are constantly thinking about what each kid in your class is doing and how to improve kids academically,” Jones said. “As a principal, it’s more of a building mindset, what is going on all over the building, and as a teacher your center means what is going on with the individual students. As a principal, that’s also true. But, you’re also worried about what’s going with the individual teachers, so you’re more connected with what the individual teachers are doing – because then they are affecting individual kids.”

Jones’ job consists of spending his time working with teachers and in the office, and he said it’s important to affect the teachers in a positive way, who then will affect the students at a more personal level. 

“Every once in a while, you will have kids do things that will get them in trouble with people outside the building and you always think about, ‘Could you have done something different to help that kid out? Could you have changed what they were doing because now they have gotten themselves in this situation that you can no longer help them?’” Jones said. “You constantly think about was there things you could’ve done differently. There’s been maybe four out of five cases since I’ve been in campus admin in the last seven years, and those are really tough times to deal with.”

Current principal Dr. John Burdett said he is excited for the future of the school under Jones’ leadership.

“Mr. Jones is a long-time Prosper ISD employee, and he has deep roots in our community,” Burdett said. “He is going to bring PHS to unprecedented levels of achievement. He is going to enhance the wonderful culture, and he is going to solidify our unity as the Eagle Nation.”

Sophomore Kyler Dailey went to Hays with Jones as her principal.

“Mr. Jones helped me grow in school by radiating positive energy,” Dailey said. “He would always have a smile on his face and say encourgaing words which really helped me think positive.”

Jones said he is looking forward to continue the legacy of PHS. 

“It is one of the best high schools in the state,”  Jones said. “So, my job is to continue that excellence. You know we are going to have fun while we do that.”

As this school year comes to an end, Jones said he has to get ready to say goodbye to Hays – even as he begins his journey as principal for PHS.

“I am going to miss the kids,” Jones said. “I hired all of the staff there. I opened the school, so every single person there, I hired. That’s going to be a challenge to leave them there. Right now, the school is operating really well so it’s going to be great, whether or not I’m there. There’s a great principal coming in, but I’m going to miss a lot of the staff, and I’m going to miss a lot of those kids. But I’m super excited coming in.”