H. Eugene Jones


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2007 Purpose Prize Winner

Accelerating student achievement by integrating art in the curriculum

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My Work History

Gene Jones, a decorated World War II bomber pilot, built his post-war career by turning failing businesses into profitable corporations. In 1999, at the age of 84, he turned his attention to the next generation. Combining his business savvy and love of music with his passion for education, Jones created Opening Minds through the Arts. Based on scientific brain research, the K-8 program integrates the arts into core curricula as a way to boost individual academic achievement and improve at-risk children's chance for future success. For example, creative movement specialists help instill critical thinking and problem-solving skills in second graders, and third graders develop compositional skills by learning to play a recorder, read music and write original tunes. Independent research shows that the program has raised students' scores on third grade standardized tests, increased attendance, reduced discipline problems, and boosted parental involvement. Project Zero researchers at Harvard have selected the program for inclusion in an upcoming report, Excellence in Arts Education and How to Achieve It. Started in three schools, Opening Minds through the Arts now operates in 36 schools, involving 17,000 students and 650 teachers in Tucson's largest public school district. Jones is working to bring the program to other cities in Arizona.

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