About Dr. Jo Ann Ford
Jo Ann Ford’s life full of serving her community began in 1933 in Dallas, Texas. She was born to Phylis Jo Summer and was adopted at the age of 4 ½ by HL and Bernice Cravens.This new family welcomed her with open arms. Through them she gained a brother, HL Jr. and was called Jo Ann by her new family. Jo Ann’s greatest childhood influence was her grandmother, Moma, who died when Jo Ann was 20.During her early adulthood, Jo Ann married a Korean War veteran, Harlan Ford, who was also a teacher and the Dean of the San Marcos Baptist Academy. While Harlan served as the Dean in San Marcos, Jo Ann taught history, English, and PE. She and Harlan were blessed with two sons: Bob and Bill. As a family, they enjoyed traveling the world. Bob and Bill especially enjoyed riding horses at their grandparents' ranch much like Jo Ann did as a child. While raising her children, Jo Ann obtained a Master’s degree in Health Education and Counseling from The University of Northern Colorado and a doctorate from Texas A&M University in Interdisciplinary Education.One of Jo Ann’s favorite roles in life was grandmother to Merideth and Garrett. Her grandkids affectionately called her “Gramsie". Her son Bill and his family live in San Antonio where Bill practices law. Her son, Bob, passed away in 1994 at the age of 40.Another one of Dr. Ford’s life roles was that of an educator. During this time Jo Ann began teaching in Georgetown ISD. Dr. Ford was the first Vocational Adjustment Coordinator in the state and district at Georgetown High School. She then proceeded to become the principal at Westside Elementary and continued on to reopen Central Elementary, currently called Williams Elementary. She went on to become the principal at Pickett Elementary and Benold Middle School. Dr. Jo Ann Ford retired after many years of serving in Georgetown ISD.During her tenure as principal, Dr. Ford was known for her innovative ways of actively working with the students. Dr. Ford initiated the Veteran’s Day Program, Halloween Dress up at the elementary schools, popcorn parties for birthdays, and Texas Day Rodeos.Some of you may remember when Dr. Ford challenged the students at Williams to collect 100,000 pennies in order to finance an air conditioning unit for the gym. They then counted these pennies by laying them out across the gym floor. Wanting to help all children have an opportunity to learn, Dr. Ford also brought the Migrant Program to Westside. Dr. Ford’s work in the community has not gone unnoticed. She is featured in a mural located at Benold Middle School.After retiring as principal, Dr. Ford had no plans of slowing down on her mission to give all she had to enrich the lives of children. Jo Ann continued to be a mentor as well as begin a mentoring program in Jarrell ISD. Dr. Ford invited fifth graders from GISD and Jarrell to the annual Van Cliburn Educational Music Concert. Because of a program headed by Jo Ann Ford, underprivileged children receive instruments making them able to participate in band and orchestra. She also helped organize a Geography Bee with Sun City residents and fifth grade students in Jarrell.Jo Ann Ford was also known and recognized for her community service. Dr. Ford served as a mentor to a blind student, a supporter of the DARE program, organized the Christmas Day meal for 17 years, as well as The Family Outreach Center. Dr. Ford’s crowning accomplishment was the development and establishment of The Community Clinic. The Community Clinic (now part of Lone Star Circle of Care) provides affordable healthcare services to low income and indigent families.After all of her community involvement, Jo Ann Ford still found time for her friends. She was involved in the same Bridge Club for 35 years and loved spending time with all of her friends. In her spare time, she enjoyed traveling especially to New York City and the coast.In the fall of 2003, the GISD School Board, after a ground swell of support from the community, voted to name the ninth elementary school after Dr. Jo Ann Ford. Dr. Jo Ann Ford Elementary School will provide a living testimony to Dr. Ford’s service as a leader of this community and of her outstanding character.Sadly, Dr. Jo Ann Ford passed away on Friday, February 3, 2006. Dr. Ford will be remembered for all of her contributions to the community of Georgetown. Jo Ann Ford will be missed as a mother, grandmother, friend, educator, and advocate to all of those who knew her.Thank you Dr. Ford for everything.
Highlights from Dr. Ford's Career:
- 1998-2000 Administrator at Alternative Schools - GAP
- 1995-1998 Principal of Benold Middle School
- 1993-1995 Principal of Pickett Elementary
- 1983-1993 Principal of Central Middle School later renamed Williams Elementary
- 1975-1983 Principal of Carver Elementary
- 1968-1974 Teacher at Georgetown High School-then in 1970 became the vocational supervisor/director
- 1967-1968 Teacher in El Paso ISD
- 1961-1965 Teacher at Alpine ISD
- 1955-1959 Instructor at Southwest Texas State College
- 1951-1957 Teacher at San Marcos Academy
In the Words of Dr. Jo Ann Ford
"The greatest resource that any country can have is its children. My passion and commitment are our children. I envision a community where no child is alone, hurt, hungry, or rejected and where every child is treated with dignity and respect. All children must receive equitable opportunities to a solid public education in order to succeed in life."I was a teacher and principal for 48 years and have devoted my life to helping children develop into productive citizens. Upon retirement in 2000, my commitment compelled me to continue giving time, effort, service, and support to make a difference in the lives of children. At age 72, I continue to volunteer for children in Jarrell Independent School District (JISD), in Georgetown Independent School District (GISD), and across Williamson County."When I was a principal, I encountered many children with obstacles that impeded their academic success: poverty, homelessness, abuse, hunger, dysfunctional relationships, and inadequate medical care. These children were without the comforts that I knew as a child. All children deserve to develop emotionally, socially, physically, and academically so that they are able to experience success and productivity."I truly feel that children in our schools need all of us as they grow through life’s experiences. One of my most important contributions was seeing my dream for a community clinic with pediatric services become a reality. One Sunday afternoon five years ago, I invited several doctors and their wives for a get-together after church. I shared with them how important children’s health and welfare are to their academic success. Many underprivileged kids do not have adequate health care or insurance. In Georgetown and across Williamson County, there were no providers for children on Medicaid. The closest services were in south Austin and often transportation was unavailable. After that initial meeting I investigated options and developed a community team that could help me realize the dream of a community clinic. My mission was to mobilize our community to provide adequate health care for our kids in Georgetown. A hungry child can’t focus on learning; a child without glasses can’t learn to read."After two years of planning, the clinic opened to serve underprivileged children and their families. The Georgetown Community Clinic has dental, medical, pediatric, and psychiatric services and an on-site pharmacy. In its second year of operation (2004) The Community Clinic had served 25,000 children and their families from Georgetown and surrounding areas and served more this year."Understanding that children’s health impacts academic success, I have engineered the Mission of Mercy for the past two years. Through Mission of Mercy over 50 physicians, dentists, and optometrists provide free medical care to over 2000 in Georgetown, Jarrell, and Williamson County children. This year, over 550 received glasses, hearing aids, and treatment for glaucoma and diabetes. In addition, I organized educational programs at all nine Georgetown elementary campuses where local physicians have conducted dental check-ups and drug/alcohol prevention activities in every class for the past several years."Another rewarding contribution was becoming a mentor. After the first visit with my mentee, I knew that we were a perfect match. We both have much in common; we are both legally blind. I mentored Lacey from 5th grade until she graduated from Georgetown High School. I was so proud of her…off to college ready to meet the world head-on. Our friendship continues to grow every day. A mentor can positively impact and truly make a difference in a child’s life—a relationship that can last a lifetime."Through my personal experience as a mentor, I realized the positive impact that an adult role model can have in the academic, social, and civic development of a child. Therefore, I helped to establish a mentor program in Jarrell schools this year. I called upon my many friends, my church family, and my neighbors in Sun City retirement community to become mentors. And I don’t take no for an answer."I believe that excellence in education is the key to our nation’s future. We must empower all our children with the best schools and guidance possible if we are truly to prepare for the challenges of tomorrow. At a time when we face stark choices about how best to strengthen the future of our great nation, our commitment to education and to children must stand absolutely firm. We have a sacred obligation to put children’s needs first and to make the essential investments that will help them to succeed."