Annual scholarship gift honors memory of Elon alumna and educator

The Jackie Watson-Jones ’71 Annual Scholarship for Education Majors will make a difference for future teachers.

As Dick Jones and Jackie Watson-Jones ’71 moved from one successful post to another during their distinguished careers in education, Dick Jones always understood one thing—that his wife was the best educator in the family.

Jackie Watson-Jones '71
“Admitting the bias that comes in describing my first love and mother of my children, I submit that Jackie Jones, beginning with her time at Elon, exemplified the very best in pedagogy, communication, influence, leadership, and excellence in teaching and administration,” Jones says.

Elon played a significant role in her success. “Elon was the foundation of her philosophy and the basis for her pedagogy,” Jones says. “We were just married, with no money, and little hope to pay for her schooling. Then Elon provided loans, assistance, and, most of all, the assurance that Jackie would have a path to a degree. Jackie seized the opportunity and became a master teacher.”

Jackie Watson-Jones passed away in 2017 after a 10-year battle with a series of debilitating conditions. The Jones family honored her by establishing the Jackie Watson Jones ’71 Annual Scholarship for Education Majors. This generous memorial will provide funding to students in the School of Education for a variety of activities, from undergraduate research projects to materials to use as classroom teachers. Building scholarships to support students is one of the top priorities of the $250 million Elon LEADS fundraising campaign. This annual gift counts toward the Elon LEADS campaign.

Scholarship funding for the School of Education is important because the need for more resources to help students is so great. Ann Bullock, dean of the School of Education at Elon, said 84 students applied for aid for 2019-20 and 29 received it.

“Scholarships provide support so students can spend more time in the schools and preparing to teach,” Bullock said. “It helps support students with costs to pay for conferences and books. Gifts such as this one are invaluable and greatly appreciated.”

Jackie Watson-Jones grew up in Burlington, North Carolina, and graduated from Williams High School before attending East Carolina University and then transferring to Elon. She majored in elementary education and graduated cum laude in 1971. From there she embarked on an impressive career as a teacher, education administrator and consultant.

It was a path that began as a teacher in the Anderson County schools in Tennessee, where she worked while earning a master’s degree in elementary education, reading, and learning disabilities at the University of Tennessee. She also gained an education specialist degree at Appalachian State University in administration and studied clinical supervision at UCLA.

Teaching and administrative jobs took Jackie Jones throughout North Carolina, often following her husband as he accepted positions as principal and superintendent of schools in different areas. In the meantime, the couple raised two sons, Andrew and Richard.

“She sacrificed her own career advancement to move to new challenges as my career advanced,” Dick Jones said. “We moved to East Tennessee, High Point, Alamance County, Morganton, Brevard, and Boone. Each time, each destination, Jackie settled our family, and then accepted new challenges. For example, in Morganton, she became lead principal/curriculum director at The School for the Deaf. She quickly learned signing, and began the arduous, often  painful, transformation from residential institution housing young people with hearing and/or speech deficits to a school — a place for learning — with a focus on skills for success in life and work.”

Jackie Watson-Jones had stints as an adjunct professor and later supervisor of student teachers at Appalachian State and served as a consultant for Scholastic Books in Atlanta. After 2006, health problems curtailed her activities. She had to undergo numerous surgeries, including two bone marrow transplants. She remained “positive, faithful and loving. She was an exemplary educator, a devoted wife and mother, and a magnificent human being,” her husband says.

Dick Jones wished to establish a scholarship that would pay tribute to her life and career as well as the important role Elon played in both.

“I am so grateful for the difference Elon made in her life and indirectly in mine,” he says.

About The Elon LEADS Campaign

Elon launched the public phase of the Elon LEADS Campaign in April. With a $250 million goal, Elon LEADS is the largest fundraising campaign in the university’s history and will support four main funding priorities: scholarships for graduates the world needs, access to engaged-learning opportunities, support for faculty and staff mentors who matter and our iconic campus. To date, donors have contributed $171 million toward the overall goal.

Every gift to the university—including annual, endowment, and estate and other planned gifts—counts as a gift to the campaign, which will support students and strengthen Elon for generations to come. To learn more about how you can make an impact, visit