Steve Jones Servant Leadership

The Steve Jones Servant Leadership Awards were presented Oct. 8 by district leaders and members of the Jones family. Pictured, from left, are Superintendent Kim Elliott, Steve Jones’ sister Allison Lassiter, award recipient Kaitlyn Stewart, award recipient Dana Tucker, Steve Jones’ widow Eva Jones and Assistant Superintendent Jake Buchanan.

Jackson County Public Schools recognized outstanding leaders at the annual “Excellence in Leadership” award ceremony held at the Smoky Mountain High School Fine and Performing Arts Center on Oct. 8.

Dana Tucker was honored with the Steve Jones Servant Leadership Award which is given annually to a JCPS employee who exhibits exceptional characteristics including caring leadership, passionate commitment, and a desire to serve and empower others. 

Tucker has worked in the district since 1998 and previously served as a school social worker before transitioning to behavioral specialist in 2015. In her current role, she works closely with teachers, counselors, school psychologists and students. School officials said Tucker is highly respected as a leader who listens carefully, remains calm under pressure and always puts the needs of others before herself.

Other nominees for the award were Smoky Mountain High School Principal Evelyn Graning, Smokey Mountain Elementary School social worker Jolene Sneed and JCPS district assistant principal mentor Dennis Proffitt.

For the second year, the Steve Jones Servant Leadership Award was given to an outstanding student. Blue Ridge Early College senior Kaitlyn Stewart received the award after being nominated for her history of dependable leadership, community involvement and encouragement of fellow students to take ownership of school events.

Other nominees for the student award were Jackson County Early College senior Keanu Ammons, Cullowhee Valley eighth-grader Dustin Johnson, Scotts Creek seventh-grader Zeb Mathis and Smokey Mountain Elementary eighth-grader Hailey Norris.

The Servant Leadership Award was created in memory of Steve Jones, who passed away in 2012. Jones was a leader who served Jackson County Public Schools in many capacities from teacher assistant to associate superintendent. He is remembered for his compassionate leadership, humility and desire to help others be successful.