Making a Difference Every Year


Note: This story was originally published in the Spring 2015 issue of Berry magazine.

Cassie JonesMaking a difference at Berry – in the world – is sometimes as simple as “doing what you can.” Cassie Heine Jones (94C) has done just that as a Berry donor every year since graduation.

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A fun-filled trip to the College Football Hall of Fame leaves many Atlanta-area school children chock full of fascinating information they might not have expected. After all, who knew stadiums could be environmentally sustainable or that football involves concepts of both science and math? 

Despite their delight in the day, however, it is unlikely that any of these youngsters will trace the interactive learning they enjoyed back to lesson plans and activity guides Jones created for their teachers. It’s just not something they think about. 

Cassie Heine Jones, on the other hand, thinks a lot about learning. The co-founder of a firm specializing in creative and comprehensive education resources traces some of her own most effective experiences back to her college alma mater – and chooses to support Berry every year because of it. 

“Berry is part of my history,” she explained. “It shaped my career path. Everything I experienced along the way there contributed to who I am today.”

And that is someone very special. Jones is a wife, mother, and vice president of Turnkey Education Inc., a firm founded in 2011 with partner Cheryl Muré that provides ready-to-use educational materials for teachers taking student groups to museums, exhibitions and other field-trip destinations. She holds a master’s degree from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and is co-author of a children’s book. She also is a school volunteer and Family Advisory Council co-chair for an Atlanta children’s hospital neonatal intensive care unit. 

Jones and Muré, both former teachers, met while developing educational materials for Premier Exhibitions, an Atlanta-based traveling-exhibitions giant that also is parent company of RMS Titanic Inc. Jones developed award-winning curriculum for Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition and won national and internation­al awards for Dialog in the Dark teacher guides.

Although Jones never considered herself an entrepreneur, she and Muré exhibit all the classic symptoms. 

“We’d seen how desperate museums were for quality education materials,” Jones said. “We thought, ‘We could do this!’ It was a leap of faith.”

Their extensive client list now includes the Center for Civil and Human Rights and World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta and the Science of Rock ‘n’ Roll and SPY: The Secret World of Espionage traveling exhibitions.

Jones and Muré were equally entrepreneurial about authoring a children’s book about the Titanic, although they first demurred when approached by a publisher. Ahoy! Titanic was published in 2012 on the ship’s 100th anniversary, is popular with schools, and has its own Facebook page where young fans can see the two main characters, Willa and Sam, appear around the globe.

The character of Willa is named for Jones’ and husband Nate’s first daughter, who was born 26 weeks prematurely and passed away in 2007. A year later, daughter Ruby’s birth was equally premature, but she is now a thriving kindergartner. Daughter Cora was adopted at birth – three months before Ruby’s early arrival. Willa and Ruby are the reasons for Jones’ active involvement with the children’s hospital.

Berry pride

When Jones looks back on her Berry experience, a few things stand out equally: “The lifelong friends I made, being able to walk out the door and go for a hike or bike ride, small class sizes, and the research skills and teaching techniques I learned from Dr. Marc Meyer in the history department – I learned more from being his assistant than I ever could have just in the classroom.” 

A Presidential Scholar who feels she was able to attend Berry because people who came before her gave back, Jones is one of the important, dedicated alumni making a difference – and a strong statement of belief in Berry – through a gift of any amount every year. 

“I give what I can because I love Berry and I want the students of today and tomorrow to have the same opportunities I did,” she explained.

And she’s proud.

“I love telling people I went to Berry,” she said, “It’s such a beautiful place and nurturing environment. I go back when I can, but not as often as I’d like.”