According to author and educator William Arthur Ward, “Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.” That candle’s flame burns brightly in 92-year-old Izora Jones (pictured) who, as of the spring 2018 semester, has taken more than 170 courses at Tarrant County College. She holds that candle out to others considering Senior Education. “Come and join us,” she urged. “You won’t regret it!”
Jones retired in 1988 after a 31-year career as a food services manager with the Fort Worth Independent School District. She heard that TCC, then Tarrant County Junior College, offered continuing education classes for senior adults and decided to register.
Thirty years later, Jones is still attending TCC. She was shocked to learn that as of spring 2018, she had taken 172 classes. “I had no idea I had taken that many!” she exclaimed.
Jones was born in Mexia, Texas in 1926. Following her graduation from high school, she moved to Fort Worth because she wanted to “get out of the country.” She met and married her husband, Jimmy, an airman stationed at Carswell Air Force Base. They had two daughters, Loretta and Rita.
Rita Sibert considers her mother, an avid reader, to be a “knowledge is power” advocate. Sibert says her childhood was characterized by frequent weekend bus rides for her and her sister to the Fort Worth Public Library downtown because “reading was definitely fundamental in our home and school.” Jones and her husband also gave their daughters the best education they could afford at the time, sending them to parochial schools.
When it came time for college, both Jones’ daughters attended. Jones’ oldest daughter, Loretta Houston, attended Howard Payne University (then Howard Payne College), making history as the first African-American female to attend. A Ph.D. candidate, Houston taught at the high school and college levels before she retired.
Sibert also attended college and eventually, became a business partner in the utility industry with her husband, a former NBA player. Committed to civic involvement, she was the first female NAACP president in Arlington and served as the first chair for the Community Relations Commission. Sibert helped lead efforts to pass the bond election in favor of AT&T Stadium and served as a member of the Fair Share Committee, which provided oversight for minority participation in stadium construction.
Both Houston and Sibert have passed on their mother’s love for education to their children and grandchildren. Three of their children have received their doctorates and two grandchildren are attending college on scholarships. “I attribute their success to hard work and perseverance,” Jones said.
With 172 classes under her belt, Jones seems to be applying hard work to her Senior Education classes as well. “It means a lot to me that my mother chooses to keep herself busy and active,” said Sibert. Like her mother, she sees the value of Senior Education.
By offering a variety of classes, such as swimming, aerobics, dancing, computers, painting, music and so much more, it keeps seniors busy and keeps them engaging with others who may have common interests. There’s no reason to grow older and lonely because you have an opportunity to explore so much to pique your interests.
Jones stays very active with classes in tai chi, power walking and weight lifting. She even learned to swim at TCC. Her favorite class, though, is painting. Her instructor, Olga Burros, said, “Izora is an amazing lady. She is a very good student and follows my instructions.” She went on to say, “Students admire her works and her age has made no difference in her learning process.” Burros, who teaches intermediate painting, described Jones’ work as “very detailed and delicate.” Apparently, judges in local art competitions agree as Jones’ paintings have won first place and honorable mentions from her civic league and the social service organization in which she is involved.
There is no denying Sibert is proud of her mother. “She taught me so much about taking responsibility for your own happiness by taking care of yourself and sharing what you have learned with others.”
After taking so many Senior Education classes, is Jones done? Not hardly. She plans to take oil painting and tai chi during fall 2018. During an interview with NBC 5 – KXAS earlier this year, Jones, who believes one can always learn more, said, “I’m here to stay.”
View Izora's interview below with NBC 5 – KXAS: Izora Jones Story.