Maddox enters 33rd year with Cedar Hill ISD
To put JoLynn Maddox’s achievement in perspective, think about a baseball pitcher who went on to winning a batting title.
It would never happen, but Maddox managed to earn Cedar Hill ISD Elementary Teacher of the Year/Region 10 Teacher of the Year honors (Waterford Oaks Elementary School in 1999-2000) and CHISD Secondary Teacher of the Year honors (Permenter Middle School in 2004-05). She was also the CHISD Special Education Teacher of the Year at High Pointe Elementary in 1991.
But the accolades only tell part of the story for Maddox, who at 33 years with CHISD, is the longest-serving on-campus educator in the district. Maddox is a longtime Cedar Hill resident and the proud parent of two CHISD graduates.
“She is the sole reason I became a teacher,” said Brittany Johnson, a Class of 2006 CHISD Graduate who now teaches in a neighboring district. “When I was in her classroom, she made learning fun. She was always present, and she made school worth attending every day.”
CHISD Class of 2013 Graduate Ian Riggs, who now works as a structural engineer in Dallas, also said he benefited from being a scholar in Maddox’s class.
“She made learning a lot of fun,” Riggs said. “We learned not just the facts of history, but why people did what they did and what it means. She always told us if society never learns from history, we are doomed to repeat it.”
These days, Maddox is an instructional coach, helping teachers achieve their potential in the classroom. It’s different than being in the classroom, but the results are just as successful.
“I knew it was time to try something different,” Maddox said. “It was very hard. I love being around young people. I was ready to try a new challenge. I help teachers find their greatest potential and guide them in model lessons and help them plan the best way to engage scholars.”
Even when she was still teaching History at Permenter Middle School, she had an impact on her colleagues, two of whom have become CHISD Secondary Teachers of the Year – Ebony Lewis (2017-2018) and Angel Hale (2019-2020).
“When I first started teaching, my principal asked me if I wanted a mentor,” Lewis said. “I told her ‘yes’, but only if it was Mrs. Maddox. In my eyes as a new teacher, she was the best, and I wanted to emulate everything she did, but just to put my own spin on it. She has left a legacy in the district, and I plan on doing the same.”
Said Hale, “Mrs. Maddox is everything. She is intentional about growing teachers. Her passion for education, building lifelong relationships with her scholars and co-workers is what makes her a cornerstone in the foundation of CHISD. She is the epitome of a team player who always strives to do what is best for our scholars.”
Permenter Principal John Ensley said Maddox did an excellent job of incorporating diversity and multiple perspectives in the history courses she taught.
“As a black male living in America, I had preconceived thoughts regarding what her class would look like,” Ensley said. “Upon entering her room she shattered those notions with her genuine care for all students in her class. She presents information in a way that is inclusive and engaging for all.”
CHISD Secondary English Language Arts Coordinator Chevondolyn Williams was a former Permenter teacher who said Maddox’s reputation preceded her.
“People spoke so highly of her that I had to see what the fuss was all about,” Williams said. “Less than five minutes into her lesson, I was hooked. She mastered scholar engagement and mesmerized scholars through the use of props and storytelling. Her love for learning and loving Cedar Hill families and being a Longhorn has never wavered.”
THE EMOTIONAL PAYCHECK
Maddox was born in Topeka, Kansas but moved to Texas as quick as she could. She grew up in Lubbock and Dallas, and graduated from the University of Texas-Arlington in 1987.
It was during her time, as a sixth grader on the high plains of West Texas that she started thinking about her ability to make an impact.
“My sixth grade teacher asked me what I wanted to be and I said ‘dental assistant’,” Maddox said. “He said ‘why wouldn’t you want to be a dentist?’ That question transformed the way I thought about myself.”
While entering the dental profession would have been more financially lucrative, Maddox soon learned that her purpose would be helping scholars recognize their own potential.
She was called to become a teacher, and she sees the “emotional paycheck” of education as being extremely fulfilling.
“I reach scholars and help them in a way that may not have happened otherwise,” Maddox said. “You get to see their worldview broaden. You can’t replace that goosebump feeling with any amount of money.”
Maddox started at High Pointe Elementary in 1988, first as a substitute and then as a full-time teacher. She joined the staff at Waterford Oaks Elementary and eventually made the transition to Permenter Middle School.
In today’s world, it is not uncommon for teachers to work for multiple districts through the course of a career. In fact, the days when teachers would work in a single district for 30 or more years has come and gone.
Sure, Maddox had opportunities to work in other districts. But she never gave it any serious consideration.
“Cedar Hill is my hometown, and it’s why I stay,” Maddox said. “I love this community and its diversity. It is important for me to live in the community where I teach.”
Both of Maddox’s sons graduated from Cedar Hill ISD. Her son, Dustin, played on the 2005 State Championship Football Team and later returned to the district to teach and coach, joining Maddox as a colleague at Permenter.
A WHOLE NEW CHALLENGE
Maddox said CHISD has grown so significantly over the past three-plus decades.
“We used to be able to do the district convocation in the high school cafeteria because the entire district staff would fit in that space,” said Maddox, who was worked during the administration of eight CHISD Superintendents.
She barely missed the administration of Permenter’s namesake, W.S. Permenter, but she was in the district while he served as Cedar Hill’s Mayor.
Maddox estimates that she has taught 3,200 scholars during that time – the oldest of whom are now in their early 40s and the youngest of whom are CHISD high school scholars. She’s taught two generations of scholars – on multiple occasions.
During her time with CHISD, the United States elected the first Black president, the Berlin Wall came down, the tragedy of September 11 happened, the Cowboys won three Super Bowl Championships, and a few months ago, the COVID-19 Pandemic changed how people interact with each other.
“It’s been tough, it’s been hard not to be around kids and my colleagues,” Maddox said. “Not having that interaction. For staff, Google hangouts are important to keep that connection and bounce ideas off each other. That student engagement piece has been really rough. We have a pretty profound change in how educate our scholars.”
Some scholars will return to traditional in-person classes on Tuesday, October 6, but many will remain in Flex Learning.
Maddox sees the advancement of technology during this time may end up being a positive development.
“Virtual is opening up avenues in terms of technology that maybe we wouldn’t have gotten so quickly,” Maddox said. “We get to see the cool side of technology in our lessons. It’s a scary time but an exciting time.”
With 33 years in the district, Maddox doesn’t know if she will challenge the late Rosa Belle Plummer’s record 45 on-campus instructional years with CHISD, but she’s not ready to retire anytime soon either.
“It still seems like I am really young to stop working, and I still love what I do,” Maddox said. “Until I feel that start to diminish, I’m going to keep going. I think longevity in one place gives you roots, community credibility and tremendous possibilities for incredible relationships – even across generations in families.”