news-category: Alumni

Celebrating Alumni – Dr. Tia Jones Honored as National Outstanding Assistant Principal

a collage featuring Dr. Tia Jones on the right with the name of her award on the left

GWU Alumna is One of 19 Recognized by the National Association of Elementary School Principals

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Students are the focus of Gardner-Webb University’s mission. Faculty members seek to engage students with unique, experiential learning opportunities to prepare them for their next steps. Whether they choose to begin a career or accept the academic challenges of graduate school, students are equipped with the knowledge and skills to lead and serve. Additionally, through GWU’s supportive and diverse Christian community, students are inspired to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others.

Gardner-Webb alumna Dr. Tia Jones is a 2022 National Outstanding Assistant Principal, an award presented by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). Jones is an assistant principal at Catawba Trail Elementary School (Elgin, S.C.) in Richland School District Two. Annually, NAESP recognizes a cohort of assistant principals from across the country. This year, 19 assistant principals received the recognition for demonstrating exceptional leadership and setting high standards for their schools and community.

Jones received the award while attending the NAESP Pre-K-8 Principals Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Reflecting on her educational journey, Jones said her love for education allows her to lean in and lead others.

Dr. Tia Jones

“In this life, we may all face some type of adversity, at some time or another. I am reminded of not only my ‘why’, but the ‘why nots’ of the world,” Jones affirmed. “Why not be the change agent for the next generation. I am humbled and honored for this recognition and the opportunity to continue to grow the profession that I love so dear.”

She began her educational career 24 years ago working as an instructional assistant at Forest Lake Elementary School. She has taught at Rice Creek Elementary and Sandlapper Elementary schools and spent the last nine years as an assistant principal at Catawba Trail.

Jennifer Gillespie, principal of Catawba Trail Elementary School, was not surprised at Jones receiving the honor. “Her commitment and passion for education is apparent in all she does each day at Catawba Trail,” Gillespie praised. “Dr. Jones is a servant leader and prides herself in developing positive relationships with students, their families, faculty, and staff. Dr. Jones is extremely creative and I am proud to have her on our team.”

Jones holds a Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood education from S.C. State University in Orangeburg, a Master of Education degree in divergent learning from Columbia College, an Educational Specialist degree in educational administration from Cambridge College in Cambridge, Mass., and Doctor of Education in organizational leadership from Gardner-Webb. She is also national board certified.

She and her husband Woodrow have five children, all graduates of Richland District Two, one of whom is an elementary school teacher in the district. They recently lost one daughter, First Lt. Justice R. Stewart who was struck and killed by an impaired driver last year while jogging near Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

Stay connected

Gardner-Webb’s faculty and staff are eager to hear about and celebrate alumni news and success. There are three ways to share your story with us:

•          Contact a faculty member.

•          Touch base with Alumni Relations.

•          Share your story here.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

Previous News Article

Introduction of GWU's New VP and Director of Athletics Seen by Viewers Across the Globe

Next News Article

Fulbright Scholar Eloisa Sofia Puello Cabeza Shares Her Hispanic Culture and Heritage

Related News

  • News Article

    Members of Gardner-Webb’s Concert Choir Ready for Trip and D-Day Observance

    GWU is the Only N.C. College Invited to Perform in 80th Anniversary Concert in Abbaye-aux-Hommes BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—The Gardner-Webb Department of Music started making plans last year for its trip to France to perform during the 80th anniversary of D-Day. Soon, the many hours of practice and preparation will be rewarded as 16 students and […]

  • News Article

    Gardner-Webb Computer Science Major Andrew Cook, ’24, Enjoys a Challenge

    Exploring Software Engineering Prepares Students for Digital Landscape BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Computer science 2024 alumnus Andrew Cook enrolled at Gardner-Webb University, because he is passionate about the evolving nature of technology and the impact it has on society. He also knew the quality of the program, because his brother and father graduated from GWU with degrees […]

    computer code
  • News Article

    Gardner-Webb Remembers Lives of Fallen Service Members During Memorial Day Observance on May 24

    Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. John Whitaker Relates Story of Sacrifice BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Gardner-Webb University faculty and staff, along with members of the community, gathered in front of Hamrick Hall on May 24 to pay tribute to those who have sacrificed their lives serving their country. In his speech, retired U.S. Air Force Master […]

    The audience listens to the speaker for memorial day