One of the newest anchors scheduled to start work soon on NBC’s “Today” show may look familiar to some Wichitans.
Sheinelle Jones, 36, a 1996 graduate of Wichita Heights High School, will begin anchoring the weekend editions of “Today” starting Oct. 4.
She is the daughter of Sheila Kinnard and granddaughter of Val Brown, a retired longtime Wichita physician, and Jo Brown, former school board member and educator. She also is the daughter of Federal Judge Darnell Jones in Philadelphia.
“Are we excited? Are you kidding me?” a very excited Sheila Kinnard asked Tuesday morning. “I’ve known about this for six months but we couldn’t tell anyone because – well, I did tell a few people – but we couldn’t really tell anyone.”
Jones is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and Links Inc., an international group whose mission is to enrich the lives of families.
For the past nine years, Jones has been the co-host of FOX’s “Good Day Philadelphia.”
Jones told The Eagle on Tuesday she is hoping for the support of Wichitans as she starts her new job.
“I need your support,” she said. “It is not every day we get to see one of our own on national TV. The beauty of social media is that through Twitter and Facebook I can talk back. I have looked forward to this moment since I was in fifth grade. It is a dream come true. My grandparents can wake up and watch me. It is such a blessing.”
According to the NBC website, Jenna Wolfe, who had been one of the “Today” weekend hosts, will now be the lifestyle and fitness correspondent for “Today.” Jones will take Wolfe’s weekend anchor position.
On Tuesday, Jones recalled her experiences in Wichita:
When she was a sophomore at Heights, she interned at the USD259 channel.
“It’s where I learned how to edit,” she said. “My grandmother would watch and coach me.”
During her junior and senior years, she said, “I’d be wearing my cheerleading outfit” while interning at Channel 12, where she ran the teleprompter.
During her freshman year at Northwestern, she interned at Channel 3.
“Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve tried to be authentic,” Jones said. “When I went to Northwestern, people there were impressed I had interned twice before graduating from college.”
Jones’ mother, Sheila Kinnard, is a drama and theater teacher at Mayberry Cultural and Fine Arts Magnet Middle School.
“When she was at Brooks (Technology and Arts Magnet Middle School) people would say, ‘Girl, you talk too much.’ And now, she is making her living by talking,” Kinnard said. “Growing up, she had all the head shots of all the anchors in her room. She has envisioned being a news anchor all her life. And now, she is in the number one market in New York.”
Kinnard said it’s a lesson she wants to teach her students.
“I tell all my kids in middle school that this is where you need to figure out what you are good at,” Kinnard said. “I tell them they need to be looking and envisioning what they want to do. It is also a fact that Wichita public schools turn out quality students.”
Jones and her husband live in Manhattan with their 2-year-old twin son and daughter and 5-year-old son.
Keep up with Jones
To follow Jones on Twitter (@sheinellejones), on Instagram (sheinelle_o), and on the Sheinelle Jones Facebook page.