English teacher honored by veterans group

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – A local teacher’s effort to honor veterans has itself been honored.

Allen Park High School teacher Andrew Jackson invited his father, Gary, a Vietnam War veteran, to speak at the school’s first Veterans Day assembly several years ago. Jackson helped coordinate the event with fellow teachers Judy Wycoff, Michelle Buchanan, Kristi Kruger, Patrick Danz, Jelane Richardson and Principal Janet Wasko.

“I really don’t think we as a country do a whole lot to recognize veterans,” Jackson said. “This was a great opportunity to teach kids and staff this concept.”

The assembly, which started with an audience of about 100 students, now is seen by more than 600 students. It also has garnered recognition for Jackson, who last week was named as Michigan Teacher of the Year by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“I’ve never had such formal recognition,” Jackson said of the award. “To get that, I was pretty stunned.”

Wasko said Jackson was recognized for the passion he brings to his job. Four years after introducing the school’s Advanced Placement Language and Composition Program to the school, he has built it up from one to four sections.

“Mr. Jackson is always looking for ways to improve his classroom instruction and conscientiously seeks out professional development to enhance his skills,” Wasko said. “He embraces an inclusive philosophy of education and believes that all students can achieve at very high levels if provided the appropriate support.”

Jackson started teaching at Allen Park High School 19 years ago directly after graduating from Adrian College.

Because his father was a school administrator and the family moved around constantly, Jackson said teaching was the last thing he ever imagined himself doing as a career.

“We moved all over the state, so I said there was no way I was going into education for any reason,” Jackson said. “But I love English. I love reading and writing, and I kind of felt a passion for that. It’s hard to imagine doing anything else.”

Though Jackson said he is thrilled to have been recognized by the VFW, he said he is in it for another type of recognition, supplied by his students.

“I love being in a class and seeing an individual gets the concept I’m teaching and I can see it in their eyes,” Jackson said. “It’s just a kind of recognition that I taught them something they didn’t know before.”