Member Spotlight: Ally Jones
Name: Ally Jones
Position: School Counselor
School: Chester-Joplin-Inverness Public Schools
Experience: 1.5 years as a counselor intern and 6 years as an educator.
Where you attended graduate school: I will graduate with my Masters in Counselor Education from Montana State University-Northern.
Share a little more about you: Where you are from? Hobbies/Interests?
I am a hometown girl, born & raised in Chester, Montana. I live outdoors, and if you cannot find me in my classroom, you will most likely find me in the outdoors. It is what I love the most about where we live: Montana. There is something to do all-year round: ice fishing, skiing, hunting, camping, and floating the river. I am always up for a new adventure. The most valuable lesson I learned in 2020 was the importance of self-care, and I began handcrafting earrings and doing leatherwork in my spare time.
What compelled you to be a school counselor or led you to where you are today?
I returned home after two years of college not knowing what I wanted to do for a career. After one week of being at home, I was lost and jobless, and I got a call from my former speech and drama coach, and she told me she had recommended me for the head coaching position at the high school for the local team. I jumped at the chance to be a part of the program, thinking it would only be a couple years until I figured out where I was going or doing. Shortly after, I got married and put down my roots working downtown full-time, as well as part-time at the school as a coach and substitute teacher. It wasn’t long after working with all of my students that I found my passion and applied at MSU-Northern and earned a degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in 5-12 English. In 2015, Chester-Joplin-Inverness Public Schools hired me on as the junior high english language arts teacher and high school journalism teacher. I fell in love with my job and my students; I knew I was where I was meant to be. In my second year, students started showing up in my classroom during my preps, lunch, and throughout the day. They would ask for advice, help on homework, and ask if they could just sit in my room for a quiet place. My classroom became this safe place students could come to when they needed it. Mrs. Sara Tempel was the counselor at the time, and I would seek her advice when I was faced with a tough situation and needed to talk it out. She had asked, “Have you ever considered being a school counselor? You would be good at it.” I replied with a laugh, “Who me?” I was not ready to go back to school or settle on a specific area of study even. Then one day, I was faced with a situation where a student really needed me. I stepped up and was there every step of the way. He came in later with his friend to thank me and asked me a similar question, “Why are you not a school counselor? You would be amazing!” The next thing I knew, I was researching programs and filling out applications and locating scholarships. I was accepted to the Master’s program at Montana State University-Northern, and three years later, here I am finishing up my internship and graduating in May of 2021. It has been a journey, but this small town school has shaped me into who I am today, and without them, I do not believe I would have set out to achieve what I have today. I truly love my students and what I do, and I am thankful every day for the students who have walked in and out of my life as they head on to greater things.
Favorite aspect of your job?
I have many hats that come with my job description, but anyone who knows me knows that I love my students. Working with students K-12 every day, guiding them through school, and getting them prepared for college is my favorite. I love watching them grow. The students I started with on my first day of school as a teacher are graduating this year, and it has been fun watching them change over the years. I do not have kids of my own, but when people ask me if I do, I can say proudly that I have 220 of them.
Particularly memorable program, intervention, group, lesson you’ve implemented that you believe made an impact with your students/staff? One of the most important and memorable lessons I have taught in my two years has been “Simon’s Hook”. My senior TA made life-size fish, hooks, and word bubble posters for my wall, and I taught this lesson K-6 as part of my guidance program and for MTSS to help students with bullying and put downs. When staff members say, “Don’t Bite the Hook”, every student knows what to do when faced with a difficult situation with another student. The light bulb moments that followed this lesson were very rewarding, and students have learned to advocate for themselves and stand up for others.
Favorite part of the spring/fall conference? With COVID-19 my experience with these conferences have been limited to virtual, but collaborating with other counselors all over the state helps give me a fresh perspective on my own program. I am looking forward to meeting many of my school counselor peers when this pandemic subsides, and we can interact with each other face-to-face.
Memorable moment in your career?
Honestly, with only two years of school counseling under my belt, it is hard to pinpoint one memorable moment. If I had to choose just one in education, it would be in 2016. I was selected as the State B/C Speech Coach of the Year. It was the most defining moment of my life. It was coaching that led me to where I am today, and it was the letters that poured in from former students, current students, and community members that made me realize the impact I have made over the years.