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Friday, September 4, 2015

'63 Grad's Gift points way to Completion of Campaign for Highlands

By Alan Thomas
Tom Jones. Provided. 
Thomas "Tom" Woodrow Jones, Jr., Highlands class of 1963, credits his life-long love of learning and successful career to the strong foundation he acquired from the many great teachers he came into contact with at Highlands High School.

"Book" learning combined with "non-book" learning (insights and inspiration) provided the motivation and good habits to do well in his work and life. Because he feels he has been very fortunate, Tom has decided to give back in a big way - by making a gift of $250,000 to the campaign to renovate Highlands.

A recent discussion with HHS Principal Brian Robinson lead Tom to the Fort Thomas Education Foundation and the fundraising needs for the Campaign for Highlands.

Tom was initially conflicted about giving a large sum of money to a school district in such an affluent community, but when he learned more about state funding, the public/private partnership between the school district and the foundation, and the much anticipated completion of the Campaign, he jumped at the opportunity to leave a "legacy" to benefit the school district that gave him so much.

Tom had a stellar academic record. He was Valedictorian of his class in high school, 3rd in his class at Vanderbilt University, and made Law Review at the University of Michigan Law School. At Highlands he was particularly proud of his achievements, under the tutelage of his teacher Martha Miller, as president first of the Kentucky Latin Club (J.C.L.) and advancing to the presidency of the national Latin Club (N.J.C.L.) comprised of 102,000 high school Latin students.

Another highlight of his high school years was, as Editor-In-Chief of the Hilltopper, writing an editorial pointing out that while a local university had an "Avenue of Champions," Highlands with its winning teams did not.  The editorial advocated the name of the connector street in front of the Methodist church become "Avenue of Champions", and when the Fort Thomas City Council followed up on the cause,  Highlands' own "Avenue of Champions" was created.

Following his graduation from law school at the University of Michigan, Tom began a 25 year career in the Legal Division of the Procter & Gamble Company, including 15 years working internationally (Europe and Asia).

Tom's involvement with the Fort Thomas Independent Schools began after his retirement from P&G. As a substitute teacher, primarily at the high school level, he developed a further appreciation for teachers and the satisfactions that motivate them to do what they do day in and day out. He recalls a young girl in one of his classes who came up to him after class and said, "I never understood this before, but now I do. Thank you."

The joy of seeing students learn new things is special.

Updates currently under construction, scheduled for completion by end of year. Including the outdoor Gymnasium Plaza made possible by Tom Jones’ generous gift.
Five years ago Tom met with Mr. Robinson to inquire as to what he could do financially to make a difference in the academic arena. What evolved from this meeting was an ongoing annual fund to help supplement the various academic competitions held throughout the school year. This fund serves to lessen the need for student/parent/faculty fundraising resulting in more time for preparation and allows all deserving students the opportunity to participate.

Tom has two siblings residing in Fort Thomas, Jim '67 and Nancy Jones Barre '70. All three were excellent swimmers (Tom a diver also) who helped build the swimming dynasty of Highlands. Tom splits his time between his long-time home in Mount Adams and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

He is actively involved in causes that promote non-discrimination, tolerance, and understanding. Tom is also currently pursuing ways that he may be able to positively impact our public library systems and parks in greater Cincinnati as part of his legacy.

Since 2001, 695 generous families have donated to the Campaign for Highlands. Each family, each gift, each dollar has helped the foundation raise $9.5 million. With less than $500,000 left toward our $10 million goal, we are asking you to consider a gift to the Campaign for Highlands. Contact the FTEF today by calling 859-815-2004 to learn more or make a donation.

Fort Thomas will be forever grateful to Tom Jones for his extraordinary generosity.

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