At Pioneer Elementary, a K-3 school in Quincy, Wash., a rural district 150 miles from Seattle, all 450 students visit Jones every other week for classes in what she calls STEAM. It’s a play on STEM–which stands for science, technology, engineering and math–but with an A thrown in, for the arts. “The process that an engineer goes through is the exact same process that a writer uses,” she says. “You start with an idea and you develop a plan, and then you go back and revise it. They have the same core goal, which is preparing kids to be successful in the world.”
Jones, 31, says she and her colleagues are attuned to the idea of being inclusive. Her students are mostly poor and Hispanic, and many are still learning English, so she and her colleagues look for alternative ways to spot talent and potential. “Traditional assessments typically leave out students from diverse backgrounds,” she says.
Jones’ approach is all about highlighting connections between disciplines. “We’ve created at school these baskets of different subject areas, but those are kind of fictional,” Jones says. “All the skills they’re learning will relate and help them as they get older, no matter where they go.”
This appears in the January 15, 2018 issue of TIME.