Ole Miss player honors Jones with Extra Yard recognitionBy BETH BUNCH,
The recognition Purvis High School teacher Dana Jones recently received was a slam dunk.
The oral communications instructor was chosen by Ole Miss and Purvis basketball player DC Davis as the teacher who had most influenced him as part of a partnership between the Southeastern Conference and the College Football Playoff Foundation’s Extra Yard for Teachers platform.
Davis, a former PHS basketball standout, graduated in 2015, but hasn’t forgotten where he came from.
According to Adam Kuffner, University of Mississippi athletics communication specialist, each of the 14 Southeastern Conference schools was asked to identify student-athletes who have had a teacher that greatly impacted his or her life.
“DC, a senior guard, was chosen by our academic support staff out of all of our student-athletes at Ole Miss,” Kuffner said. He in turn chose Jones.
Educators are being honored through a testimonial by the respective student-athlete which will air on SEC Nation, the SEC Network’s traveling pregame show, during the college football regular season.
Davis’ selection of Jones, an oral communications teacher, was aired Saturday morning as the show broadcast from the University of Mississippi campus.
Jones taught Davis English when he was in the 11th grade.
“DC was, and to my knowledge, still is, a kind and humble young man,” said Jones. “He worked hard in school.”
She said standardized tests were not easy for Davis, but he was willing to work to do well and was very motivated student.
Needing a particular score to be eligible to play Division 1 ball, Jones tutored him for the ACT.
“He and I spent many hours working together along with teacher Devina Williamson,” Jones said of their tutoring sessions which lasted for several weeks. “I tutored DC for the ACT because I wanted to see him do well. That is why I am a teacher... I want to see all my kids do well, but especially the ones that are humble, kind and driven.
“I still remember when he told me he had gotten the score he needed,” she said. “I jumped up and down and cried. I am so proud of everything he has accomplished.”
Davis is equally proud of the teacher who prodded him to study hard.
“The teacher that impacted me the most at Purvis High School was Dana D. Jones,” he said from campus. “She always had a great spirit and encouraged me, whether it was with basketball or school work.”
He said one thing that really stood out to him was when she’d take time out of her busy schedule and spend countless hours helping me prepare for my ACT test.
“Without her, I really wouldn’t be where I am today,” he said.
Jones isn’t sure she can put into words how she feels about being chosen by Davis for such an hoor.
“I am humbled to have been chosen out of all the great teachers that I know he had here at Purvis and since then,” she said. “To be recognized for simply doing my best at a job that I love is the greatest honor that I have ever experienced. I love any time students tell me that I made a difference in their life because it makes all the long hours, stress, paperwork, worry, prayers, and hard work mean something. It means that my job really does make a difference and that I will leave behind a legacy. I just want to make a difference in this world and this honor just reminds me that I am making a difference one student at a time.”
Along with the honor comes a $10,000 grant for Jones.
She said PHS Principal Brad Skeen has told her she could decide where to use the grant.
She chose to use part of the money to buy some new equipment for the basketball team in honor of DC and the rest will be used to upgrade facilities in the auditorium.
“I am the director of the PHS Masqueraders, our drama team, and I am working with the other Fine Arts teachers to work on getting some updated lighting equipment.,” she said. “The grant will be used through Donors Choose and is funded by the SEC and the College Football Program.
“The Southeastern Conference has been an extraordinary partner in our efforts to elevate the teaching profession since we began the CFP Foundation five years ago,” said CFP Foundation Executive Director Britton Banowsky. “The examples of positive influence that teachers have on their students is incredible. We look forward to watching the conference and the SEC Network bring these stories to life each week this season. We thank the SEC and its member schools for their amazing support.”
Jones and a teacher from the Gulf Coast are the only two recognized from the Magnolia State.