Naomi Jenkins-Jones, a physics instructor at Douglass High School who was known for her simple goal of "pursuit of teaching excellence," died Wednesday of a heart attack at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Mrs. Jones, 50, of Reservoir Hill was trained as a chemist and had taught physics and science at the West Baltimore school since 1993.
"She loved making the difference. She had a relentless pursuit to be the best and for her students to be the best," said her sister, Devora Jenkins-Whiting of Baltimore. "She was always very bright and enjoyed working with the kids."
Mrs. Jones worked mostly with students in the school's FUTURES program, in which students get special assistance to complete their high school requirements and go on to college, said Rose Davis, Douglass' principal.
Mrs. Jones seemed to enjoy the challenge of teaching, was always mild-mannered with the students and never missed a day during her tenure at the school.
"She was a devoted teacher who wanted her kids to be the very best," Ms. Davis said. "She believed they could be the best. She was a dedicated teacher. She was one of those teachers who could never say no when you asked for something."
In addition to teaching physics and science, Mrs. Jones taught a charm class for girls. A tall, stately woman who was always prim and proper, the girls in the class enjoyed following Mrs. Jones' lead.
"She liked taking them through the halls," Ms. Davis said. "She walked very erect, and they all walked just like she did. They weren't mocking her, but quiet and reserved like she was."
A Baltimore native, Mrs. Jones graduated from Western High School in 1966. She received a bachelor's degree from Morgan State University in 1970 and a master's degree in chemistry from Morgan State in 1982.
From 1972 to 1980, she was a chemist for the Baltimore offices of the National Institutes of Health in its department of aging. She worked for several city schools from 1980 until she began at Douglass in 1993.
She was one of the first black female chemists for NIH and enjoyed the research.
Friends and relatives said Mrs. Jones enjoyed teaching as much as she enjoyed chemistry. "She always felt that she was training young minds," Ms. Jenkins-Whiting said. "She said if we can just get the youth to understand."
Mrs. Jones was a member and sang in the choir of Heritage United Church of Christ, 3110 Liberty Heights Ave. in Northwest Baltimore, where services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow.
In addition to her sister, she is survived by her husband, Alvin Jones, whom she married in 1992; and four brothers, Arthur Jenkins, Nelson Jenkins, William Jenkins and Herbert Jenkins, all of Baltimore.
Pub Date: 10/04/98