James Jones sees his younger self in the students he encounters at KairosPDX, and he delights in showing them the possibilities their futures can hold.

Jones is the Senior Front Office Coordinator at KairosPDX, a Portland charter school that started in 2014 and has a mission “to eliminate the prolific racial achievement and opportunity gaps by cultivating confident, creative, compassionate leaders.” Jones has worked there for a little more than a year after a job posting on Indeed caught his attention.

“After doing research and learning more about it, I discovered that I had a lot of ties to Kairos and its community,” Jones said. “Once I walked into the doors, I just knew that this was the place for me. The atmosphere, the people, the students, everything felt right. I remember walking in and seeing all the Historically Black College and University paraphernalia and instantly got excited. As an HBCU alum it made my heart smile seeing (students) exposed to Black institutions of higher learning much sooner than I was.”

Jones earned a degree in Sociology with a minor in Criminal Justice from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Currently, he is working toward his Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree at Warner Pacific University and is part of the Coach to Classroom cohort.

“Being able to share my experiences with students who look like me has been one of the best aspects of my journey,” he said. “It is truly a thrill to see students light up when I show them institutions that revolve around them.”

Hearing students’ perspectives shift from disinterest in college to being enthused about the opportunity, “has sparked a drive in me that wants to do everything I can to ensure that happens. I’m blessed to be able to share my experience and I hope that it continues to motivate students to pursue higher education.”

Jones’ position at Kairos gives him the opportunity to see how his work at WPU applies in a school setting.

“Learning about how to effectively teach students from urban environments and diverse backgrounds has helped me become more effective in my interactions with students,” Jones said. “Also, learning different learning styles and techniques has allowed me to use various tools that are both effective and efficient when it comes to dealing with students.”

In his current role, Jones’ responsibilities include attendance, enrollment and orientation, document and records storage, and safety procedures and protocols. He also plans and executes events, including family nights and graduation.

“Once I am done with my studies I plan on transitioning from my front office role into the classroom,” Jones said. “My ultimate goal is to open an institution for black boys here in Oregon. My goal is to teach and serve as an administrator to gain the experience and knowledge needed to open a school. Between my education and my lived experiences, I believe I can provide an element to students that was pivotal to my success and that is representation in and around the classrooms.”