After teaching communications for years, Kelli Jones now practices the skill herself as the new communications director in Lt. Gov. Mike Parson's office.
"I'm now practicing all the stuff I've been teaching for the past 20 years," Jones said. "I think communications — both verbal and written — is vital in any industry, regardless of whether you're going to be an electrician or the CEO of a company. Those are skills that you're going to need."
Jones earned her master's degree in communications at Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) in 1993 and began a career in Chicago.
In her work acquiring and servicing yearbook accounts for a publisher, she met her future husband, Jim Jones, who is now superintendent at the Blair Oaks R-2 district. After they met, he took a job in Marceline as a football coach and math teacher, and they married in 1995. Kelli told him she'd like wait to begin a family to establish her career.
But in about five months, she learned she was pregnant with twin girls. Within 4 1/2 years after the twins' births, two more girls came along.
While in Marceline, Jones decided to focus on her family and began teaching at night at North Central Missouri College.
Then Jim accepted his first administrative job as principal at Blair Oaks.
"I stayed home a little while, and then a position at State Technical College came open," Jones said.
She accepted the teaching position in 2003 and served as chair of the Communication and Social Service Department for seven years.
She said she and her husband are passionate about education.
"This younger generation comes through. Their minds are so sharp," Jones said. "That communications piece is so important, regardless of your personal or professional life."
Still, while teaching the subject, she hadn't really gotten to stretch her own communications skills.
As her daughters have grown and gone off to college, Jones thought the decision to pursue her career in a different direction might have reflected how other people consider retirement.
"You don't think about retirement until you get close to retirement," she said. "And you don't think about change until your kids are close to leaving."
As she left the college, she was considering doing something a little bit different, maybe exercising her specialty instead of just teaching it.
"I hope to take all the skills that I've mastered throughout the years and see how (they apply in the political arena)," she said. "I've thoroughly enjoyed it. It fits my personality."