Position: Third Grade Math Teacher School: Barkdull Faulk Elementary
School District: Monroe City Schools
City, State: Monroe, Louisiana
About the Nominee: Gary Jackson was nominated by a colleague, Ericka Kelly.
As an educator, Mr. Jackson is concerned not only with his students’ academic well-being, but the well-being of the entire child. This is because different students require unique catalysts to reach their full potential. In some cases, helping students succeed outside of the classroom can lead to success inside of the classroom. It is because of this belief that he considers the formation of the Barkdull Faulk “Golden Steppers” Step Team as one of his most significant contributions to student lives.
While some might look at creating an extracurricular activity as minuscule in education, there is more to it than meets the eye. By creating the step team, Mr. Jackson not only became the boys' sponsor, but he became their coach, mentor and biggest supporter. Providing students with creative ways to express themselves outside of the classroom comes with high expectations in all aspects of their lives. Mr. Jackson teaches his step team to be leaders, not only within their team, but also in their respective classes, the school and in the community. Little boys, who have never considered college, now perform in front of packed university stages with new hopes and goals of one day reaching the collegiate level themselves.
In this endeavor, he has seen parents who were rarely involved become increasingly involved with their children’s education because they can see what was once untapped potential and energy turn into something they can be proud of. Building young men to become leaders and watching their school, parents, and neighborhood show such pride and place such encouragement into them is so refreshing. Creating “The Golden Steppers” was not just the creation of another activity; it was the start of a movement of parents and students in becoming better together. Each member of the step team has shown an increase in GPA and overall educational effort. In and out of the classroom Mr. Jackson is changing lives!