Retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Carl Jones didn’t join the African American Mentoring Program for accolades, but he appreciated the honor of winning this year’s AAMP Mentor of the Year Award on Thursday, May 11, at First Baptist Church of Palm Coast.
The former serviceman and his wife of 25 years, Teldra Jones — also retired Air Force — lived on several continents throughout Carl’s 26 years of service. Before they retired, they had purposed that wherever they settled, they were going to get involved in the community. The Joneses have done just that.
When the AAMP had established mentors in various schools, Indian Trails Middle School was still unoccupied. Upon Jones’s arrival to the program, he quickly recognized the need and put a plan into action to reach students. His group has grown from eight to over 20 students.
“I enjoy passing on my experiences to young men,” Jones said, “but this bunch of kids I have are sponges who listen to what I try to tell them, and that makes my job a lot easier.”
Jones has been mentoring Mark Doane, an eighth-grader at ITMS, for two years. Doane — who has made the honor roll this year — made all F’s prior to their relationship. He credits Jones for his academic turnaround.
“He always helps me achieve my goals, and he never puts me down,” Mark said. Doane hopes to pursue a military career, when he becomes of age.
Jones grew up as the youngest of seven brothers and four sisters. He describes his early years as not being a “rosy background.” But, when Jones joined the Air Force, he was fortunate to get a mentor in his staff sergeant, his first supervisor.
“With me being about 20 years old,” Jones said, “he showed me a lot of things I didn’t know, so that’s why I’m here.”
Jones’s ultimate goal is to take in as many middle-schoolers as possible and grow them and follow them through high school and beyond.