Rose Mary Jones thought her retirement as a preschool teacher would be uneventful. She didn’t suspect a thing when her husband called her in from working in the garden after receiving a phone call from their daughter. He told her that their daughter needed their help after their grandson threw up.
Jones was quick to put her corn planting aside and run into the house to clean the mess. Upon entering the house, Jones found no sick child and nothing to clean up. Instead, she heard something coming from the front yard. “Teacher! Teacher!” was being shouted from the crowd of nearly 100 that had congregated outside.
The Millville, Utah preschool teacher was overwhelmed to see the outpouring of emotion from former students, parents and neighbors. They brought signs, balloons, flowers– and their love.
Jones had been teaching preschool out of her home for 36 years and had become a fixture in the community. In fact, many of her recent students were sons and daughters of her past students. Kristine Gonzales is a former student who said Jones was a positive influence in her life, so much so that Gonzales’ own four children had also been attendees of the preschool.
Jones’ husband Rob is a retired middle school teacher who was present when the preschool first opened all those years ago. He says his wife opened the school after another preschool teacher retired. She only had a few students at the beginning, but as word got out, her student base grew. Jones estimates that she taught about 1,000 students during her career, including 10 of her 12 grandchildren.
Mindi Gibbs, one of Jones’ daughters, recalled the encouragement she received from her educator parents. “I’m grateful that they were so involved and really cared about education,” she said.
Gonzales called her a “giver,” adding that Jones will be greatly missed.