Comstock Park — In her first two years of high school Antoinet’zah (Net’zah) Jones was a frequent visitor in the principal’s office. You name it, she got in trouble for it: talking in class, not doing her work, being disrespectful and other “crazy” stuff, she recalled.
She figures at other schools, that behavior might have got her expelled. She credits the patience of teachers and principals to helping her get on the right track.
Net’zah said the transition from eighth grade to high school was hard for her. By junior year, she said, she started taking high school more seriously. Classmates noticed the change, although she said she evolved and didn’t realize she was changing at first.
“I think it’s like a maturing thing. I started to realize that high school is not a joke,” she said.
She also ran into Assistant Principal Tony Petkus “a lot. He was always so nice to me,” Net’zah recalled.
Petkus said Net’zah was not focused or engaged when she started high school. She attended Kent Career Tech Center, took school more seriously and improved both academically and behavior-wise, he said.
Her grade point average improved dramatically from near failing her freshman year to a C+ average. She became more career focused.
Net’zah pointed to Susan McDonald, math teacher and advisory teacher, as a positive influence.
“She had a lot of patience with me. She would sit and talk to me and try to understand,” Net’zah said. When Net’zah is in the moment and maybe getting angry, she said, she thinks “‘What would Mrs. McDonald say?’”
Said Petkus: “It’s been really great to see her growth from a student (who) really struggled in her early years at school to becoming focused and doing really well.”
Net’zah said the school would call her dad when her behavior was bad, but eventually got calls about how well she was doing.
“I don’t want a job, I want a career – something I like,” Net’zah said.
Net’zah has worked since she was 15, currently in patient care at StoryPoint, an assisted living facility in Rockford.
Net’zah studied medical assisting at the Tech Center, but not being a fan of science or math, found it wasn’t for her. Career exploration and surveys showed social work-related jobs as a suitable career, possibly as a corrections officer.
Net’zah plans to attend Grand Rapids Community College this fall and major in criminal justice. She hopes to transfer to Grambling State University, a historically black public university in Louisiana. She has family there, and a great aunt who graduated from Grambling.
She said she most likely will return to Michigan, as she is a self-professed “daddy’s girl.”