LANSING, Ill. — School is back in session and our first teacher of the month is an English teacher and the newspaper advisor at a south suburban high school.

Students say Christopher Jones brings an encouraging presence to the classroom helping them grow through writing, reading and seeking truth.

Jones is the first to tell you, he’s not a man of many spoken words.

“I never thought I had it in me to be a teacher because I don’t like speaking in public,” he said.

But written words? That’s another story. His background in writing and a desire to give back brought him to Thornton Fractional South High School in Lansing.

“I always tell my students in my classes that every little thing you do — newspaper, yearbook, chess — might be an opening to a job,” he said.

And he says he wants them to know if he can do it, so can they.

“I was a very average student and if I made it, that there’s opportunity for them,” he said.

He’s now is his 16TH year as an English teacher and an advisor for the student newspaper The Howler.

Jones says there’s a lot for his newspaper students to soak up, even if they don’t go into journalism.

“There’s always a deadline,” he said. “The idea of organization and starting over and knowing how to start over from scratch, to take a bit of information and turn it into something bigger that tells us a full story,” he said. “The other side of it is access to the truth.”

He was nominated by a former student for Teacher of the Month and Darrell Johnson from award sponsor Ankin Law stopped by the school to deliver the honor.

“I feel like there’s thousands of teachers in the state and in this building that deserve it as much as me,” Jones said. “I was really humbled by it.”