These Philosophies are at the Heart of Principal Allene Houston Jones’ Vision for Paducah Middle School
Allene Houston Jones is a few short months into her first year as Principal at Paducah Middle School, but she is no newcomer to education. After three years as Assistant Principal and twenty years at the Cairo, Illinois, School District prior to that, this administrator has had lots of time to develop her philosophy. “Number one is that all students can learn,” says Allene. “They may not all learn at the same rate, but all can learn.”
Since taking the reins as Principal, Allene has been encouraged by the number of offers of help and support she’s received from local community leaders. She is working to leverage those offers into programming and assistance for Paducah Middle students. Implementation of a “Leader In Me” program, based on an adapted version of the Stephen Covey program, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” is also underway. “I think it’s important for kids to know that every student can be a leader in whatever they do,” explains Allene. “In addition, two to three students per grade can apply to serve on the ‘Lighthouse Team,’ an advisory group that acts as liaison with the administration and has a hand in making decisions for the entire student body.”
Broadening the horizons of students at that “in-between” age is also a major mandate in middle school, and Allene sees that as part of her mission. “We want to have students who are prepared to go to high school,” she says. “They need to know there’s more to experience than what they have been exposed to in Paducah.” For much of this work, Allene relies on her staff. “We are really fortunate at Paducah Middle to have an outstanding group of talented teachers who really want the best for our students,” she says.
A believer in education as much for herself as anyone else, Allene is a student at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale working toward a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and is also enrolled at Murray State University working toward a Superintendent Endorsement. She currently holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Murray State.
“I do think that when it comes to education, a student’s home life does not necessarily dictate their future,” says Allene. “If a child is determined, or has the proper encouragement, the sky is the limit for each and every one of our students regardless of where they may have started.”