VOICES ON TEACHING

First Grade Lessons that Last a lifetime

She taught him over 50 years ago. He’s paying that impact forward.

*The following story and video were captured in 2019.

When six-year-old Mark Jones sat in his first-grade class at Buda Elementary School 51 years ago, he never imagined that his teacher, Sybil Ellison, would remain a mentor and friend decades later. 

Jones, who is now a county commissioner for Hays County, honored his former teacher on Facebook for the impact she made on his life. 

Jones says when he was growing up, the schools in Buda were a pillar of the community. “Everything we did revolved around the school from elementary through junior high and high school. The whole town and the community was part of it.” 

Today, he volunteers as a manual scorekeeper for the high school football games. “A lot of people are surprised that somebody who is elected commissioner would spend as many hours as I do out there, but it just seems natural to me. It just always seemed like that’s what you ought to do. [Teachers] taught us, ‘If you’ve got the ability to do something good for somebody, you need to do it.’ It comes down to the examples that I’ve had throughout my life, starting with first grade.”

He believes teachers, like Mrs. Ellison, are the ultimate role models and credits her with his success today. “You learn so much about how to treat other people from your teachers. When you had those good teachers, it just makes the rest of your life so much easier because they’re always there with you.” 

Ellison says she always knew Jones would have a successful career working with people, “He was smart, he was vocal, he could do everything he wanted to do. I knew he would have a good future.”

She adds that the greatest joy of her career is seeing former students as adults, meeting their families, and seeing all they have accomplished. “That is very special to me.”

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