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Dr. Marcus Jackson on Leading with Love and Empathy

With more than 20 years of experience, Dr. Marcus Jackson is a leader in the education industry. He is currently the director of curriculum instruction in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and the CEO of Jackson Educational Consultants. He is responsible for transforming 12 low-performing schools, 10 elementary schools, and two middle schools.  Dr. Marcus Jackson was […]

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Dr. Marcus Jackson
Dr. Marcus Jackson

With more than 20 years of experience, Dr. Marcus Jackson is a leader in the education industry. He is currently the director of curriculum instruction in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and the CEO of Jackson Educational Consultants. He is responsible for transforming 12 low-performing schools, 10 elementary schools, and two middle schools. 

Dr. Marcus Jackson was raised by a single mother who had eight children, six boys and two girls. The concept of accountability was instilled in him from a young age. He became an All-American basketball player in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and went on to play in college at Georgia Southwestern State University. 

After college, Dr. Marcus Jackson worked for the City of Atlanta as a community coordinator, working to help at-promise youth (he does not use the term at-risk). As community coordinator, he gained valuable experience educating and mentoring youth and was inspired to become an educator in the school system.

For three years, Dr. Marcus Jackson worked as a school teacher and even became Teacher of the Year. This led him to become an assistant principal and later on a principal for several different schools. Dr. Jackson was a very successful principal at the elementary, middle school, and high school level. He also became a college professor at Clark Atlanta University. 

In addition to his career in education, Dr. Marcus Jackson is a published author and has written Because My Teacher Said I Can and School and Life Living in the Middle. 10 Daily Essentials for Principals, Dr. Jackson’s latest book, is a bestseller on Amazon and the first in a series of five books discussing essential tips for principals, assistant principals, teachers, parents, and students. 

What do you love most about the industry you are in?

I love being able to change the trajectory of a child’s life through education and interaction with them. It is a really inspiring kind of work that creates unlimited possibilities. In this day and age of social media, there is nothing more gratifying for a teacher or an educator than a former student reaching out to thank you and tell you that you helped them to get where they are today. Sometimes they will tell me, ‘You were right about everything you told me. I know I was bad at school, but you gave me chance after chance. Thank you for not giving up on me.’ Those kinds of comments are an inspiration for me and keep me grounded in working for the kids. 

What keeps you motivated?

What keeps me motivated are thoughts of my mom. She recently passed away, so I have spent some time reflecting on the special memories I have of her. She was an amazing woman, having raised six boys and two girls. She taught me to cook and to take on responsibility whenever I could help out. I would often take care of my siblings while my mom was at work because she often was working at three jobs to help us make ends meet. I watched her go through life with many difficulties, but she always did her best. She was a personal example to me to keep going and pressing on. I was able to take care of her and be with her when she took her final breath in my arms. 

She would always ask me, ‘Are you proud of me?’ She used to doubt herself as a parent and as a mother of eight kids. She would need validation. When it came time for me to go back home after visiting her, she would hug me and kiss me. She would say, ‘I know I’m not perfect, but are you proud of me?’ My response would always be yes. I just want to continue to do God’s will and make my mom proud, now that she is looking down on me. 

How do you maintain a solid work-life balance?

Since moving back to my hometown of Lake Charles, Louisiana, I have found myself working a lot more. There is a big difference here from when I used to live in Atlanta. In Atlanta, I had more opportunities to go to plays and concerts. I would often unwind by listening to a jazz band or going to an art museum. Atlanta has the King Center, the Coca-Cola Museum, and nice parks. 

Also, when I moved back to Lake Charles, my mom was with me. When I got home from work, I often had a “second shift” taking care of my mom while my sister was working at her job on the night shift. Now that my mom has passed, I am using some of my time to focus on eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, and I am about to start jogging. I am giving myself time to adjust to these recent changes. 

What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?

I always lead with love. From my position, sharing vulnerability has been very powerful for me. I do not feel as if I know it all and I convey that to the people that I am leading. I am a great communicator. I often inspire others simply by seeking their input. I have worked at the elementary, middle, and high school levels and I know what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. However, when it comes time to make those decisions, I am always collaborating with my team, currently elementary school and middle school principals. Whenever I have an idea, I ask what they think about it and then we will rip it up, tape it back together, edit, rip it up again, and we will come out with a finished product which is something that we collaborated on as opposed to something I did on my own. Creating a culture of collaboration, being vulnerable and open with people, and leading with a great deal of love and empathy are the strengths that have helped me to succeed in education. 

What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?

More than anything, I would suggest finding a mentor that is successful in what you want to do. Listen to them while you are in their company and learn all that you can. Find a mentor and listen, listen, and listen some more. 

Outside of work, what defines you as a person?

Family is everything to me. I have been told that I am the glue that keeps everyone together. Whenever we are planning something, to get together for the holidays or doing Zoom calls since the pandemic, I am that person that brings the family together. It is important to me to try to stay connected with my family in order for me to stay grounded. I can’t always be Dr. Jackson. Being with family gives me the chance to be Marcus sometimes and take a break from my professional responsibilities. 

Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?

I want to increase my brand internationally. Right now, I am still working with the school district and I do my consulting business on the side. But I have actually had the opportunity to speak in places like Canada and I reach people through my blog. There are people and educational leaders all across the world that are interested in what I have to say because of my experience and what I have been able to do to turn around low-performing schools. I just finished writing, Ten Daily Essentials for Principals, which is a bestseller on Amazon. This is the first in a series of five books that provide essential tips for principles, assistant principals, teachers, parents, and students.

Explain the proudest day of your professional life.

My proudest day was when I was presented with the Teacher of the Year Award from Morningside Elementary school in Atlanta.  At that particular time, I was a Physical Education teacher, but I constantly met with the regular teachings during their grade-level meetings and after school to find out what was going on in their classrooms.  I was able to make PE fun and interactive and also reinforce some of the lessons that were being taught during regular classroom time.  I had the advantage that most of the kids wanted to come and see me, as well as being in contact with all of the teachers in the entire school.  It meant so much to me to be recognized for my skill and talent as an educator. 

Find Dr. Marcus Jackson Online:

Twitter – @DrMarcusJackson

Facebook – Marcus Jackson

Instagram – drmarcjack

Blog – marcus-Jackson.com

Website – www.drmarcusjackson.com

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