Eagle Academy's new principal, Kimberly Jackson.
(Photo by: Shenneth Dove-Morse)
Meet Kimberly Jackson, the new Principal at Eagle Academy’s New Jersey Avenue campus, an early childhood public charter school for children from pre-kindergarten to third grade. She’s a mother of twins and grew up in New Orleans. She worked as an assistant principal at a Baltimore charter school before joining Eagle earlier this month. Ms. Jackson recently answered the PCSB’s 7 Questions on why she does what she does in DC charter schools.
When did you know you wanted to work in education?
In college I majored in Speech Communications/ Theatre Arts – I wanted to be a famous director. The summer before my sophomore year I got a job as a theater instructor and was assigned to teach a summer program at an elementary school in the lower Ninth Ward. Many of the fifth- and sixth-graders we worked with could not read on a fourth grade level. One second grade student, nicknamed Maw Maw, could not distinguish letters or numbers. What saddened me the most is that no one really seemed to care – This was long before No Child Left Behind. How could we get the students to perform a play when many could not even read it fluently? That was when I decided that I wanted to work with children. I would create a children’s theatre company that would use theatre to teach reading. I did that, and realized I could reach even more students by teaching other subjects.
I find that charter schools have more autonomy to drive instruction and achievement. They are also typically smaller than traditional public schools and have more of a family environment. Within a good charter school the driving force is achievement. Successful charters that are homegrown care about their communities and their students. This is what drew me to Eagle Academy.
Describe Eagle Academy – what makes it stand out?
Eagle Academy focuses on creating a strong foundation in early childhood learning through a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) focus. Most importantly, we are a family. We invest in our youth by providing top-notch teachers, an innovative curriculum, new technologies and a supportive network from our communities to ensure that our children learn and excel.
What’s a typical workday for you?
Well since the school year just started at Eagle Academy, I’ll describe a typical day at my previous school. I used to arrive between 7:00 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. and generally leave around 6:00 p.m. In the mornings, I would often meet with students in the cafeteria and later work with teachers either observing them teach, one-on-one or during professional development. I would also meet with parents and other school personnel to resolve any personal or educational issues a student was having.
Who is the educator you admire the most?
Mr. Brunson. He was my high school US History AP teacher. He set a very high standard during a time in which I would cut my Honors classes most of the semester and make a B without trying. He made me type ten-page papers and would spend his planning time finding me around campus if I skipped class. He refused to accept anything but the best from me, even when I did not realize that I could be the best. I always wondered what happened to him after Hurricane Katrina. I pray that he is reading this blog and will know how much I appreciate everything he taught me not only about US History, but about life.
There’s a lot of funny words and acronyms in education. Tell us, what education term would you do away with?
The one term I wanted to throw away when I was completing my coursework for my teaching certification was Jean Piaget. [Jean Piaget was a French-speaking Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher known for his developmental studies with children.] While I respect his theories and found them very helpful to my instructional methodology, the chapter on Piaget every course quickly became overkill.
So what do you do when you’re not at school?
I enjoy being a mom. My sons are identical twins who will be turning 12 soon, and we are board game and card-playing fanatics. They have become very skilled performers; they act, sing, and dance. I enjoy helping them prepare and watch with pride when they excel. Though they have a creative side like me, they aspire to be an engineer and a doctor. I like to read fiction, and when I can I write plays and perform original spoken word. I enjoy cooking New Orleans dishes like gumbo or red beans and rice -- though it often requires me to beg a family member to ship me some seasonings.
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