Graduate student Robin Jones has always considered herself a lifelong learner

Robin Jones


Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Robin Jones. I was raised in Curtis, Arkansas, and I have two siblings -- Lenette Jones and Paul Bailey III, who attended Henderson for undergraduate and graduate school. I am a 1998 graduate of Arkadelphia High School.

I received my Bachelor of Science in Education in Family and Consumer Science (2002), Master of Science in Special Education (2011), Educational Examiner Certification (2020), and most recently completed my Educational Specialist degree in Educational Leadership-Principalship (2024) – all from Henderson. I have taught for 22 years in family & consumer sciences. Currently, I teach family & consumer science classes at Arkadelphia High School, where I was named the 2024 Teacher of the Year. I believe the educators who taught me at both AHS & HSU allowed me to have a good educational foundation, understand how to relate to a diverse group of people, and become a great teacher.

How important do you believe a graduate degree is for a successful and satisfying career?

Earning a graduate degree is very important, especially a specialty degree. This degree tells others that you don't believe in complacency and always have more to learn and grow in your career. It also allows people to know that I have plenty of passion for the broad area in which my degree is (education) and that I wanted to seek a specialty in that area in order to further my career and exude to others that I am a credible source in this area of focus.

How did you manage your work-life balance as a graduate student?

My family has been a tremendous help and a source of encouragement during my educational journey. In addition, the program was 100 percent online, which helped me so much. I could log in at home and also sit in the car while my daughter was completing extracurricular activities.

What inspired you to seek your graduate degree?

The inspiration to pursue a graduate degree began with a conversation with my current principal, Callie Hunley. Mrs. Hunley expressed her belief in my potential to become a remarkable administrator. Her words of encouragement resonated with me and made me reflect on my abilities and strengths. She felt I have always been able to convey my thoughts and ideas effectively, enabling me to connect with individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Why did you choose Henderson to pursue your graduate degree?

I have completed my education through Henderson and had a positive experience with each degree I pursued. The faculty and staff are so helpful, understanding, and compassionate.

What has been your favorite class (related to your major) so far, and why?

My favorite class was School and Community Relations. This class covered developing partnerships with community organizations, engaging parents and families in the educational process, and collaborating between the school and the community. In this class, I learned how vital community relations are. Aspiring educational leaders can develop the skills and knowledge necessary to effectively communicate with everyone involved, address community needs, and build a supportive network to enhance the educational experience for all students.

How has your perspective on your field changed since starting your graduate studies?

My perspective has mostly stayed the same since receiving another graduate degree. I have always told myself, and still do, that education is my key to the future and a better life. I have always considered myself a lifelong learner, so when I went back to graduate school for the second time, I knew that I wanted to add to my education to set myself up for a new challenge in my career. I will continue to tell my children and grandchildren that the most important and influential thing they can obtain and have is an educated mind.

What advice would you give to future graduate students to make the most of their experience at Henderson?

Henderson State University has many resources that will allow you to succeed and have a positive college experience. Never be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you meet the financial aid staff, understand the TRIO program, and talk to your advisors.

What are your career aspirations or plans after completing your graduate studies?

I aspire to venture out of the classroom into the role of an assistant principal or college/career instructional facilitator, or work at the district level as a federal programs and school improvement coordinator.

Please share something about yourself that might surprise most people.

Most people would be surprised that I have made it 22 years in education, because when I first started, I struggled my first three to four years until I found a fantastic mentor at the Hot Springs School District who took me in like her daughter and taught me and molded me into the teacher you see today.

If you could have lunch with any historical figure, who would it be? And why?

Viola Davis is one of the most inspirational people I look up to because of her perseverance and determination. After reading her book Finding Me, I knew I had no choice but to keep going even when I wanted to give up. While my story is not as traumatic or challenging as hers, seeing how a small town little black girl with big dreams was able to break through all types of societal barriers and overcome personal and family trauma as a child to "find" and become Viola Davis was the motivation I needed to "find" who Robin Jones is.

Who is your biggest inspiration and why?

My biggest inspirations are my parents. They both sacrificed so much for their children's education. My mother attended Henderson and had to stop going to college at the end of her junior year to help take care of her elderly parents. My father needed to work to support his family and, therefore, he did not have the opportunity to attend college. They always encouraged me as well as my siblings to work hard to get a good education so that we would be better prepared to take care of our families. They never complained about any of the sacrifices they had to make, but were always there to help us throughout our educational and personal journeys.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your pursuit of an Education Leadership degree?

Dr. Holly Cothren is in the top three on my list of educators I have had in college. Her ability to teach her content with so much knowledge and her ability to understand, nurture, and accommodate her students is unmatched. When she tells us that she cares about us, she means it. When she tells us to "go forth and do great things," she means that wholeheartedly. She embodies what a Reddie educator is – an educator who aims to educate with the heart. I am forever grateful and thankful for my experience with her, and I will continue to keep in touch with her, even though I have completed my degree.