The Vision

Angie Jones: MSMS Icon for 28 Years

Ms. Angie Jones has served as an art teacher at MSMS since the second year of the institution's existence.

Ms. Angie Jones has served as an art teacher at MSMS since the second year of the institution's existence.

Mariat Thankachan

Mariat Thankachan

Ms. Angie Jones has served as an art teacher at MSMS since the second year of the institution's existence.

Mariat Thankachan, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Ms. Angie Jones is all about art; she says she has paint in her veins. Serving as an art instructor, Jones has taught at MSMS since the second year of its existence. After 28 years of sharing her passion with dedicated students and stretching their visions, Jones has decided to retire at the end of this school year.

“I jokingly told my son that when I die, I would like a brush in my hand. I never want to stop creating.  From the age of around six, I was using my imagination every day. I had a magical childhood. I would pretend to teach my friends to draw. How’s that for foreshadowing?”

Guided by her favorite artist, Michelangelo, her inspiration stemmed from his versatility in all areas of art.

I always accept challenges because if you don’t try, how do you know where your limitations are?”

— Angie Jones

“I always accept challenges because if you don’t try, how do you know where your limitations are,” Jones said.

Jones majored in Art at The Mississippi University for Women (MUW), then continued her studies to receive a Masters in Gifted Studies. She tells the tale of coming into the MSMS family.

“My career at MSMS began out of the blue in 1989 with a single phone call from Johnny Franklin, the administrator of MSMS. He invited me for an interview, hiring me the next day.  I was to teach two classes each semester of Drawing and Painting. After that year, I became full time. In 1992, I added Sculpture to the curriculum. I soon wanted an advanced level, so that was also added,” Jones said.

Ms. Jones has persevered through countless changes at MSMS, recounting her memorable experiences of witnessing the institution’s growth and development.

“I have taught all over the campus. The first art room was in the Mable Ward home.  We had the right side of an old home which stood next to Mary Wilson. One morning when I arrived to work, the kitchen floor was moving.  I can still feel the bounce of the floor as the termites were having breakfast. After that incident, we moved the art room to Parkinson, now Nissan. I had two classrooms, one upstairs and one down. Those years I definitely got my exercise. And of course, the water we needed came from down the hall at the nearest restroom.

“Those years I also took all of our pottery to West Point in the bed of our van to be fired.  It took four trips for each project. From there, Mike Neyman, the administrator, found Shackleford, my oasis, to me a dream studio. After a few years of developing a state of the art studio, a tornado came to campus and forced me out. A temporary refuge was to be the nursing building on front campus. All my classes had to fit into one small classroom. What a nightmare. When I finally returned to Shackleford, it was like coming home.  Five moves and the final one was the best of all. There was wide open space, four sinks, drafting desks, pottery wheels, and even a parking space at the front door,” Jones recalled.

She continued, “A favorite memory of mine was the first days of my beginner classes. On those days I would discover what talent was there and what my job would be for the next two years, to nurture that spark of talent  that the student might have missed. I loved sharing my excitement for the field of art and seeing it take root for inspiration.”

An encouraging role model for the students, Jones has put her heart into all aspects of her teachings to incite enthusiasm and a passion for art in youth. Her teaching styles have been shaped and transformed based on her innumerable interactions with students.

“Teaching 28 years at MSMS challenged me as a teacher to reach my students on all levels of ability. Began with lesson plans and soon realized they were only an outline. MSMS students worked out of the box so I had to, too. Whatever the students needed, I needed to figure it out.  Their aptitudes were unique; there would be no cookie cutter style for me. I felt that the students needed to learn about art, how to create art, and how to appreciate art. I wanted them to relax and have fun with art.”

Many of Ms. Jones’ students will tell of the welcoming atmosphere they’ve encountered walking into her art studio. Not every classroom can inspire a young individual to express their thoughts, personality and feelings through brushstrokes on canvas; Jones has successfully designed hers to be a safe haven that instills a sense of warmth, comfort and confidence in her students.

Jones explained, “I play music, burn candles and even painted the room with warm colors to create an inviting environment. Over the years I have strived to be an ear for my students.  When they were overwhelmed, I would try to put it all in perspective and remind them of how wonderful they were. I would often remind them of how important it is to follow your dreams and passions. Try everything and whenever you lose track of time, that is your direction to take.”

Along with other MSMS traditions that truly run deep, the one Jones created is quite notable among the MSMS family. A lover of tradition, Jones began letting senior art students sign the studio floor with paint in 2007. The students would place their name and year next to their classmates’ as a sentimental gesture for their hours spent working in the studio. Alums often return and search for their signature, reminiscing about the past and the history written on the floors.

Jones' art studio floor houses the names of hundreds of past students. This tradition runs deep at MSMS.

It is easy to say that after 28 years of resolute work at MSMS, Jones’ legacy of fondness and influence is a tie that will never be broken.

I cannot imagine our MSMS community without her.”

— Kelly Brown

“Ms. Jones is an institution at MSMS. She is a perfectionist about her craft and takes quite a bit of time to instill these values in the students,” Kelly Brown, Director for Academic Affairs said.

“She is so much more than an art teacher. She is a creative force behind most of our functions and buildings. She uses every available space to create mini art studios so everyone can enjoy the work of MSMS students. She has never turned me down for any project I dream up. Her love for the students is evident by allowing students she doesn’t teach come to the art studio to unwind. I cannot imagine our MSMS community without her.” 

Her students share similar thoughts on their experiences with her teachings and how their lives have been influenced after walking into her art studio. Senior Mary Owings received the opportunity to partake in Drawing II last year, where Ms. Jones introduced her to several new techniques that Owings enjoys, such as colored pencil on black paper or pen and ink. This year, Owings has attended the Painting I and II classes, where she was able to realize that the medium was a favorite of hers.

“I have had an absolutely wonderful experience with Ms. Jones as a teacher. I love how she recognizes the best way to teach an artist, whether they want more outside influences or not, or how much assistance is wanted on the actual piece. She can address each student’s individual needs, which I greatly appreciate,” Owings said.

“Most importantly, she is has a wonderful energy about her, which can be a breath of fresh air from the math and science classes. I always look forward to going to painting. Whenever I thought I had found my perfect medium, Ms. Jones introduced me to new things she thought I would enjoy, and I did. I readily use other mediums now, thanks to her. Even if I wanted to be hard-headed, Ms. Jones would find a way to show me how I could improve my work. Further, she has shown me the importance of my own work, by assisting me in submitting artwork to competitions and the Southern Voices magazine. May I also point out that Ms. Jones knew that I would attend Tulane before I knew that I would attend Tulane. Not only that, but she has led me to seriously consider an art minor. I love Ms. Jones.”

Jones has her roots deep within the MSMS and MUW communities. In her college days, she lived in the girls’ dorms: Goen, Fant and Peyton. She even lived two doors down from the president of the university today.

As she reaches retirement, Jones does not plan on slowing down. She wants to develop a new career with freelance art, be able to travel and spend time painting and sculpting her young grandson’s growth. She also wishes to continue her work in restoring her Victorian home, landscaping the grounds and sculpting the hedges.

Despite her retirement and relaxing future plans, Jones reassures that she will always be near, always available to lend a creative hand to her MSMS family.

“I will never completely leave MSMS.  It will always have my heartstrings.”

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