We had the good fortune of connecting with Annie Johnston-Jones, Ed.D. and Dymond Jones, M.S. and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Annie & Dymond, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
In addition to being business partners, we are also married, so we try to be very intentional about work-life balance. Over time, we’ve gotten better at keeping this balance, and the primary reason for this is our “Supercrew” of teachers that work with us each day. By hiring the right people, we are able to delegate and share the load more and more each year. We also have gotten better about implementing new daily routines, such as me choosing to leave my laptop at school at the end of the day…it sounds simple, but it’s actually a very tangible way to ensure that I can “unplug” when I get home. At times, this human work we do can get extremely heavy, and we have both definitely had phases where we are really feeling that heaviness…individually and together. In these times, we are really grateful to be doing this work together, because we can pick one another up. We are both individually and collectively conscious of what things help us feel grounded and balanced, whether it is making time for daily yoga, trail runs, fishing trips, etc.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
We are most proud of the ripple effect that we have created through CORE. What literally started as ideas jotted down on a napkin at The OK Cafe in Atlanta has evolved to something that truly has a life of its own. We vividly remember the days when the two of us did every single job every single day, and it’s really cool to recognize that it has become something way bigger than both of us. We have surrounded ourselves with the right people and that has resulted in a collective energy that powers the work we do and continues to attract the right people. As Epictetus says, “Surround yourself with those who uplift you.” This project has taught us both the importance of those words, and the power of living life in community, working alongside like-minded, motivated people to change the world.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We would definitely want to spend some time in the city and some time up this way. We would probably check out our favorite music spots to see if any good shows were happening – Variety Playhouse, Eddie’s Attic, Terminal West – and we would grab dinner at La Fonda or Agave beforehand. While in the city, we would also be sure to visit the Center for Civil and Human Rights and we would go see Dymond’s mom in Forest Park! Back up this way, we would spend time enjoying the great outdoors at Rope Mill Park, Hickory Log Reservoir, Mountain Park, and other local spots where we enjoy hiking and fishing. I would definitely take them to a yoga class at Ember, and hang out at Truck ‘n’ Tap in downtown Woodstock. We would spend a lot of time at the CORE Community Farm @ Lakeview, hanging out on the front porch of the Henry House.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We love answering this question, because we do weekly Shoutouts with our students every Friday around the campfire at the school farm! We strongly believe in the power of gratitude and staying conscious of the people and experiences that make life awesome. The one person that deserves a shoutout is our dad, the chair of our Board, and the very first true believer in our vision, Dave Johnston. He has provided the love (sometimes the tough kind), support, mentorship, and wisdom every step of the way. The books that deserve our shoutouts are “The Courage to Teach” by Parker Palmer, which has been a guiding philosophical force for how we think about the work of teaching and learning, and “The Art of Living” by Epictetus, which is an all-around great handbook to living your best life. The organization that we want to shoutout is Goshen Valley, where Dymond spent a few years working before we started CORE. The founder of Goshen Valley, John Blend, has served as a friend, example and mentor to us through the years, and the work they do as an organization continually inspires us.
Katie Freeman Kady Morgan