Boyce College associate dean Kevin Jones models service and sacrifice
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — The newly-appointed associate dean of academic innovation at Boyce College is “a master teacher, a gifted administrator, a proven churchman, and a devoted husband and father,” said Matthew J. Hall, dean of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s undergraduate school. Louisville native Kevin Jones, assistant professor of teacher education since 2014, has more than a decade of experience teaching in public schools and colleges, in addition to his service in church ministry roles and community organizations.
"As one of Christian higher education's fastest-growing institutions, these are extraordinary times of opportunity for Boyce College,” Hall said. “Dr. Kevin Jones is the right man at the right time to help our efforts to lead the college into this exciting future. Dr. Jones will play a vital role in leading our efforts to develop new degree programs as well as continuing to ensure excellence in teaching as one of Boyce College's distinctives."
In an interview with Southern News earlier this year, Jones said his teaching and pastoral experience, four education degrees, and now training teacher education students at Boyce College are all part of his desire to bring the gospel into hard places.
“Teachers can go places where pastors cannot go,” said Jones, noting that he can equip students at Boyce who can “go to tough places and closed countries” because they can teach.
Growing up in West Louisville, Jones developed a love for the city and observed both beauty and brokenness in his neighborhood. At age 15, Jones recognized his own brokenness during a service at Little Flock Baptist Church in Louisville’s Shelby Park neighborhood and with the help of deacon and church bus driver David Williams, Jones embraced the gospel.
A year later, at the same church, Jones’ Sunday School teacher Patsy Turner encouraged him to pursue education through the church’s one-year teacher training program. Through Turner’s influence, Jones chose to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education at Kentucky State University. While attending the historically black college, Jones met his mentor, the late Kenneth Chatman, who was vice president of student affairs.
“He really encouraged me to pursue education,” said Jones. As an African-American, Jones found himself at odds with statistics showing that teaching was predominately a white female occupation. But Chatman, seeing his young pupil’s passion, told him that if the Lord had given him a desire to teach then he should pursue it with vigor.
With encouragement from his mentor, Jones went on to earn M.A. and M.Ed. degrees from the University of Kentucky — although he remains a lifelong fan of the University of Louisville — and a D.Ed. from Spalding University, all the while gaining experience teaching in various public schools. Chatman also demonstrated a model of faithful marriage and encouraged Jones to marry his girlfriend Demica. The couple now has three children.
After graduating, Jones knew he was not interested in teaching at a Christian school. “I always turned them down,” Jones said. “I want to be by people who don’t have Bibles.”
While Jones saw a lack of faithful Christian witness in public schools, he says God began to change his heart toward Christian education. He realized that he had a certain skill set that could be better used in training others. Along with his extensive education background, Jones also had experience in pastoral ministry from his time at Watson Baptist Church serving with Kevin Smith — a former Southern Seminary professor who is now executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network — and Immanuel Baptist Church’s three-year pastoral apprenticeship under Ryan Fullerton.
Jones embraces his new role as trainer and sender at Boyce, but his desire to reach broken places has not waned. Well acquainted with Louisville’s needs, Jones actively seeks ways to serve and share the gospel within his community through organizations like Love Thy Neighborhood, which trains young people to work within gospel-centered nonprofits in impoverished communities. Jones sits on the board of directors at LTN and creates curriculum and study materials for the organization’s trainees.
Jones also advocates for public school education because he is aware of the challenges the system faces. New teachers are sent to the worst schools, but when they prove their worth and gain tenure, they leave the bad schools behind for easier teaching environments. Jones hopes to counter this by modeling and teaching a different method — a life of service and sacrifice, rather than one of ease and comfort. A life that reaches out to children who haven’t eaten breakfast and have “been in the same clothes for six days in a row,” Jones said.
The lack of qualified teachers and the cycle of teachers from the worst schools is a problem within public school education, but Jones understands the fundamental problem is much deeper: “As long as we don’t have Christian teachers in every single classroom, I think we will always have problems in education.”