WAGONER, Okla. — The day started with a surprise from 2 Works for You at the Lincoln Enrichment Center in Wagoner, Oklahoma. We were there to honor our next excellent educator, John Jones.
The school district doesn't hold classes on Monday and that gave Jones a terrific idea.
"We start off with a devotion, some time together, then we have a Power Hour!," Jones said.
It was March of 2017 when Jones came up with "Brighter Futures." It started as a literacy program for kids at an apartment complex. But it quickly grew to an all-day experience with volunteers making sure kids get an hour of reading as well as sports, arts and crafts, and other educational opportunities.
"We want a safe and caring place for our kids where we can really help them discover their God-given talents and build on those," Jones said.
"It's a good place in the community for little kids and he helps out a lot," said Khylie Austin, a fifth grade student.
Jones says Brighter Futures is working with about 125 families, and on any given Monday between 25 and 45 kids are there learning and having fun.
"We do fun activities and stuff," said Chloey McCormick, a sixth grade student.
"He's cool," said Prince Austin, a fourth grade student. "He likes taking us places and stuff!"
Jones says all of the activites are taking place in a building that housed Wagoner's only school for the African-American community until 1965. It sat vacant for years. But thanks to volunteers and the Wagoner community, it's become a shining example of how things have changed.
"It used to be a broken down old place," said Kamiah Sherman, a sixth grade student. "But with a little care, it turned into this really fun place for people who want to come and learn."
The renovations continue to this day.
"We're really excited because we're working on this becoming the site for the Wagoner Boys and Girls Club as well," Jones said. "So, it won't just be for Mondays, but for everyday of the week."
They're expanding, too. The facility is getting a new playground.
"Because these kids are our future," Jones said.
Jones is a Wagoner native with a background in caregiving. But becoming a mentor for these kids is a perfect fit because his parents were elementary school teachers.
"I used to be on the bad way," said Jamauri Ragsdale, a sixth grade student. "[I was] going down the wrong road and he helped me get back on the right road."
So congratulations Mr. Jones! You deserve being recognized as the newest 2 Works for You and Patriot Auto Group Excellent Educator.
"Great work," said Tatton Manning, with Patriot Auto Group. "In just the little bit of time I've gotten to know you, you're doing a great job. Thank you so much!"
You most certainly deserve all the admiration from the lives you're changing.
"Are you all going to go with me?" Jones asked the group of children.
"No, we can't sing!," they responded.
Then everyone started singing, "I like big print bibles and I can not lie. 'Cause they're easy on my old eyes. The words aren't itty bitty, no they're nice, big and pretty, I like big print."
"Oh I can't believe you all did that to me," Jones said as he hugged the kids.
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