Following the April 1 appointment of David A. Woods as superintendent of schools, the Oxford Area Board of School Directors at its July 18 meeting appointed Dr. Margaret Billings-Jones as assistant to the superintendent.
Dr. Billings-Jones began her service in the district on July 22. For the past 10 years, she was superintendent of the Lakeland School District in northeastern Pennsylvania.
A native of Dunmore, Pa., Billings-Jones holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and human services and a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling and school counseling certification from the University of Scranton. She earned a doctorate in educational administration from Temple University, where she was awarded the Russell Conwell Fellowship.
Billings-Jones began her career in education at Northeast Tri-County MHMR (now Health Services), where she coordinated the psycho-education programs for students in grades K-6. She then was appointed supervisor of the organization's pre-vocational program for students ages 12 to 21.
She first joined the Lakeland School District in the guidance department at Lakeland High School, serving as department chairperson and special education representative. After 10 years, she was named director of pupil personnel for the Abington Heights School District in Clark's Summit, Pa. At Abington Heights, the annual President's Award, whose recipient is chosen by graduating seniors as being the staff member who has helped them most during their high school years, was presented to the pupil personnel department.
After four years, Dr. Billings-Jones returned to Lakeland School District as superintendent, overseeing 1,600 students in three buildings. As superintendent, she strengthened high school course offerings through the addition of several courses including AP Physics, a four-year engineering program affiliated with the national PLTW (Project Lead the Way) initiative where students can earn college credit with Penn State University, and a course in Mandarin taught online by a college professor.
During her tenure Dr. Billings-Jones implemented full-day kindergarten and developed the Olweus Anti-Bullying program district-wide.
Dr. Billings-Jones is a big believer in educational technology and was committed to increasing the use of computers in the district. "When I started out as superintendent we had 100 computers in our schools, and when I left there were 1,300 computers," she said.
She added that she is very excited by Oxford's new initiative of providing iPads to all incoming high school freshman.
"I've always wanted to see electronic notebooks in every student's hands, and Oxford is well on its way to making that happen," she said.
Academic performance at Lakeland improved dramatically under Dr. Billings-Jones, with the district making Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left Behind legislation in each of her years as superintendent. She also expanded the number of extracurricular programs, developing a high school mock trial club and increasing participation in and community support of numerous student clubs.
Billings-Jones increased the district's safety and security measures, including 24-hour monitoring of school buildings. "I'm also proud that the district had a healthy fund balance at the end of my tenure," she said.
Billings-Jones is now looking forward to bringing her experience and leadership skills to Oxford in helping the district to continue and build upon the district's progress over the past five years.
"The resources are in place for Oxford to become one of the best school districts in the state, if not the best," she said. "I am tremendously excited about this opportunity to see Oxford continue to advance, and fulfill the shared vision of the community, school board and administrative team."
Dr. Billings-Jones and her husband currently live in South Abington Township, Pa. They have five sons and three grandchildren.