Durell Jones will be talking about his life and his history on what he has done in the past and his teaching years.
Yahily Estrada: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Durell Jones: I’m from San Bernardino. I was born in Loma Linda Hospital. I went to elementary school and middle school here. I graduated from San Gorgonio High School. I was fortunate enough to get a full ride scholarship to play football at the University of Arizona. When I graduated, I did odd jobs until I found my career which was in law enforcement. I worked for the Department of Corrections Adult Parole Division for 25 years, I worked my first two years at Chico State Prison and then I transferred over to state parole.
YE: How long have you been teaching?
DJ: I’ve been teaching for 4 years.
YE: In these four years that you’ve been teaching, what is your history?
YE: What is something crazy that has happened while teaching?
DJ: That’s really hard to answer. Stuff doesn’t affect me like it does most people. I haven’t really seen anything crazy. But fights to me… I mean, I literally worked with murderers, rapists, drug dealers. I’ve seen dead bodies. I’ve seen numerous guns and drugs and money and stuff you see on TV. I’ve had fights with people that didn’t want to go back to prison. So two kids fighting is really nothing.
YE: What is something you wish you did differently?
DJ: I wish I would have picked a different major. I majored in sociology with a minor in communications which is fine, but at that time, because I played football, they really just wanted you to get a degree. I really think I could have been a doctor of some sort, like maybe not a brain surgeon, but I could have been a podiatrist, worked on feet and made a lot of money.
YE: If you could change something about yourself, what would it be?
DJ: Oh, that’s kind of hard because I like myself. I would say to be a little more financially smarter, as far as stocks, bonds, investments, things of that nature.
YE: And why?
DJ: I think that I’ve always been kind of conservative when it comes to that. Growing up in my era, especially in Black households, money was never really discussed. And when you would get it, you would basically spend it. That was just kind of how we did things. As I got older, I realized saving is a great tool, but even though I have some investments, it’s nothing like what I probably could have.
YE: How’s your relationship with your students?
DJ: Good, very good. I would say that that is probably my strong point. Gaining relationships with the students. Everyone seems to like me and like my classes. I don’t have any problems. I receive respect.
YE: How do you deal with students that misbehave?
DJ: I don’t have very many. I’ve only had two cases. I tried to talk to my students, but I talked to them real, which kind of goes a long way. My expectations are when you come here, it’s a safe space for everyone. I can’t have you acting out and putting other people in danger. Plus, I don’t like dealing with shenanigans or tom foolery. I think that when people come here, number one, they feel safe.
And number two they know I like to play around and have a good time. But, there’s a certain line that if this kind of starts turning crazy, or if you got an issue or whatever, you know, that stays outside the door.
YE: Have any of the students ever tried to put their hands on you?
DJ: No, no, no, no.
YE: What is your weakness?
DJ: My weakness in the classroom is I’m not the typical teacher. I didn’t go through the teaching hierarchy or stuff like most teachers do, I was able to get my credential based off of work experience, and then I went to school, but I didn’t really go to school to learn how to teach. I think sometimes, as far as lesson planning and stuff like that, that may be a weakness. I make up for being able to foster relationships and have good class management.
My weakness in life is that I have OCD, which can be a problem. I am a perfectionist. I have very, very high expectations of myself. I don’t let a lot of people get close to me, but if you’re in my circle, I have very high expectations of you. People always say, “Oh, you’re perfectionist, that’s not really a weakness,” but it can be because I get hyper focused on stuff. And like I said, I’m when you’re a perfectionist, and you have high expectations, there are certain times where that becomes your whole focus, and then you lose focus elsewhere.