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New principal takes on ‘The’ Prosper High School
Nicholas Jones kicks off the school year with passion
September 15, 2022
Principal Nicholas Jones emphasizes the word “the” in front of Prosper High School as he repeats the cheer.
“Remember, you go to the Prosper High School, the flagship Prosper High School!”
Standing and speaking in front of around 3,400 students may scare many people — but this nerve-wracking idea definitely does not intimidate this principal. In fact, that’s where he thrives. Since Jones took over and started the school year Aug. 10, students, teachers and other administrators have noticed his work to create a culture and passion for the school.
“My purpose is to build a team that gets kids to want to show up to school,” Jones said. “I love being able to do cool things to make kids excited to be at school. If kids are excited to be at school, they’re going to do better in class. They’re going to do better in extracurriculars, in UIL and athletics because they want to be here right now.”
I would just describe him as a leader who strives to connect with kids.
— Ginger McClendon
Although Jones is new to PHS, he is not new to education, or Prosper, as he is starting his 21st year in the field and 17th in Prosper ISD after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin.
“I started out teaching history and coaching football everywhere,” Jones said. “I started at a high school called Pflugerville in North Austin, I was in Grand Prairie then Frisco for a little bit, and then I came to Prosper to coach football. I coached at the high school for six years and taught history. I was in central admin for three years after that. I was an assistant principal for a few years, and I’ve been a principal for four years.”
Jones began at Hays Middle School as the principal for the 2019-2020 school year, where he began creating a culture within that school as soon as it opened.
“He made an effort to know who we all were,” freshman Payton Robertson said. “He knew a lot of names and actually cared about us.”
Robertson went to Hayes for all three years of middle school under Jones’s administration and noted some things he made an effort to do.
“He always did pep rallies,” Robertson said. “He gets really excited about school spirit. For example, every time we played Rogers or Reynolds in a sport, he went on the intercom and made an announcement.”
Not only has Jones created an environment of school spirit for the students, but he has also made an effort to create a different culture for teachers.
“His focus – that was very clear when he came in – was family first,” the Nest’s Future Ready Designer Ginger McClendon said. “For example, when we have teacher workdays, he’ll say something like if you have a kid and something happens with the babysitter, you can bring your kid up here. Your family is your priority. And, being a mom, that makes me feel so good.”
McClendon, also a mother to a junior and senior at PHS, said that she has noticed changes in her children’s attitudes toward school, as well as many others.
“I feel like the kids are ‘all in,’ and having kids of my own here, it’s important to me to feel like you’re part of something,” McClendon said. “I feel like this year, even though I have the senior, he feels like he’s part of something. I watch him at the pep rallies just get so fired up when Mr. Jones comes out.”
Although Jones does have a heavy emphasis on pep rallies and school spirit, he said a large part of his mission is to make every student feel like they have a place.
“You’ll hear my announcements about pep rallies — and I love pep rallies — but every time I announced one, I always say something like, hey, if you don’t want to go, that’s okay,” Jones said. “If you’re into something else, for example, let’s say you’re in AP Biology, and that’s your thing, and you want to and you need time to study for AP Bio, we’ll have a study hall for you, and that’s okay.”
Making every student feel involved is something high on Jones’ priority list, however, he cannot do it alone.
“The key is there are 297 adults that work here, and that’s not including like custodial crew or lunch crew, that’s just teaching and people that are working with kids,” Jones said. “In a smaller school my job would be more direct with kids, but what my job is now is helping adults be able to influence kids in direct ways. I’m not with kids a ton, but I am spending my time working with assistant principals, who are working with teachers, who then have to work with kids.”
Jones also has a secretary, Heidi Starkey, who helps him with his scheduling and appointments throughout the day, who he said is a big help and makes his day easier.
“She helps me run the organization of the day, which is great,” Jones said. “So then, I can spend my time directly working and leading teachers and APs, and I don’t have to worry about the organization part.”
The past month of school being in session has allowed students and teachers to connect with Jones, but has also given him the chance to show what the following years at PHS will look like.
“I would like each individual student to know that Prosper High School is a safe place for them to be. No matter what they’re into, everybody has a place here,” Jones said. “(PHS) is the best high school in the district. We have the best kids in the district, and we are very proud of that.”
This article received updates for journalistic style Sept. 16 and Sept. 23.