ALBANY, Ga. -- Zatambra Jones is a fifth grade math teacher at Sylvester Road Elementary, and has only been in the classroom for four years after spending 15 years as a forest cartographer.
While it took her some time to find her way to the classroom, Jones said she was predestined to become a teacher.
"For as long as I can remember, teaching is what I wanted to do," Jones, one of eight finalists for the DCSS 2014 Teacher of the Year, said. "I knew that I could take skills, metamorphose them into a seed that could be planted into a child and it would bloom as knowledge."
Jones admitted that she never thought she would spend 15 years mapping forests before realizing her dream.
"The incident that propelled me to my predestined path occurred when I was volunteering for my son's class," Jones said. "The teacher was instructing the students on how to subtract with regrouping. As the students were following her instructions, most of them were 'getting it' but one little fellow was shrinking lower and lower into his seat, the helplessness written all over his face.
"I moved my chair to his side and asked if I could try to work the problem on his paper, step by step. We figured out the problem together."
It was then the light came on for Jones.
"His words for me were, 'that's all you gotta do.' It was at that moment I knew it was time to leave the private sector and get on my true path," Jones said. "So, the 'that's all you gotta do' is why I teach."
Jones went on to obtain a B.S. and an M.S. In Early Childhood Education at Albany State University.
The DCSS's 2014 Teacher of the Year, selected from the best among a group of teachers from each of the district's 27 schools, will be announced Thursday at a banquet at the downtown Hilton Garden Inn.