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Posted on Sep 2, 2017

Teacher of the Year meets Bill Gates

Pioneer Elementary schoolteacher Camille Jones added two milestones to her time as the 2017 Washington state Teacher of the Year, in what has been an exciting month of August for her.
First, she threw the ceremonial first pitch at a Seattle Mariners game at Safeco Field on Aug. 10. Then, some days later, video was finally released of her June interview with Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates.
Meeting the business mogul fulfilled a longtime dream for Jones.
“When I was a kid, I always thought I wanted to work at Microsoft,” she said. “I was really fascinated by computers as they were coming out and changing.”

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Camille Jones, the 2017 Washington Teacher of the Year, during their meeting in June.
Photo submitted by Camille Jones

She later added, “I always thought he was so inspiring as a person to develop this business that was changing so quickly and changing the world so quickly.”
Jones and Gates spoke for about 30 minutes. Two-minute video snippets of the conversation are released on Gates’ website and the Quincy School District’s Facebook page.
Jones described Gates as a down-to-earth person with an eagerness to listen and learn and ask questions, in particular about the work happening in Quincy. One thing that caught Gates’ eye was the level of interest in science and technology among both boys and girls in Jones’ class.
Worldwide, fewer girls than boys are either working or studying in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, Jones said. Gates wanted to know about what it’s like to teach these topics to 5-year-olds.
“All the students really love it,” Jones said she told the former Microsoft chairman. “And I don’t see any difference between what boys and girls like, are interested in or feel like they can do.”
Jones said people from all over the world have reached out to Jones since Gates released the videos to talk about what Jones is doing with students in Quincy.
Asked what kind of impact this talk might have had with Gates himself, Jones said she did not know but hoped it planted a seed in his mind or influenced his thoughts and decisions on how he deals with education in the future.
Gates is very interested in education and always looking to learn more about all kinds of things, Jones said.
“It was a very surreal experience,” she said of the chat with Gates. “I think it’s going to take me a couple of years to sort of realize that and all the other experiences I have gone through this year.”
One such experience happened this month, just before the video of her talk with Gates came out. Jones took the mound at Safeco Field for her hometown team, the Seattle Mariners.
“I grew up in the era of Edgar Martinez and Ken Griffey Jr. and Jay Buhner and all those guys,” she said. “So, the Mariners are part of who I am.”
Each year, the state Teacher of the Year throws the ceremonial first pitch at a Mariners game. This year, Jones flung horsehide at backup catcher Carlos Ruiz prior to a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
“I was really nervous (in the months) before,” Jones said. “But that day, I wasn’t as nervous. I just wanted to throw it straight.”
The 2018 state Teacher of the Year will be chosen in mid-September, but Jones still has a few more responsibilities as 2017 Teacher of the Year. She is, however, back at Pioneer teaching full-time after spending most of last school year traveling the state.

By Sebastian Moraga,