Rita Jackson

Rita Jackson

Editor’s note: The News Courier will publish candidate announcements as we receive them and as space allows ahead of the Nov. 3 general election. Announcements should be no longer than 700 words and emailed to lora@athensnews-courier.com. They may be edited for length, grammar, style and content.

As a professional educator who has taught since 1994 and retired in 2016, Rita Jackson feels her experiences as an English teacher and guidance counselor give her perspective from multiple viewpoints to serve well and listen to ideas of the folks in District 4 and bring those ideas to the Board.

Born and raised in Limestone County (District 4), Jackson and her husband Billy raised their four children in the LCS system. They ran a service station in Athens, first with her dad, Otis Sanders, then on U.S. 72. Their family attended school in District 4.

Jackson attended Elkmont, then Owens and West Limestone, graduating from the latter in 1976. She attended Limestone County Tech Center while in high school and worked at the Limestone County Board of Education as an assistant to bookkeeper Mary McElroy as a junior in high school and later as a substitute teacher before earning her bachelor’s degree in Language Arts at Athens State and master’s degree in English from the University of North Alabama.

She also attended the University of West Alabama for School Counselor and Library Media masters’ certifications. Jackson began her certified teaching experience as an English/Spanish teacher at Ardmore High, then transferred to West Limestone until 2008, before seeking high school counseling experience in surrounding systems and retiring in 2016.

Jackson still feels strongly that she can make a difference in building futures for our students. “Teamwork in conjunction with our LCS Board can give our students the very best education that our schools can provide," she said. "Consequently, administrators and teachers must be equipped with the tools they need."

Her goals for District 4 include expanding internet coverage to keep lines of communication open between school and home, duty-free lunches and implementing a program called Keep it Real (DARE) that equips students to make better decisions and resist violence, drug use and bullying. Furthermore, she wants foster more positive interaction between students and authority figures in school, freedom for classroom teachers to express creativity instead of "teaching to a test," fewer "paper trails" for teachers, hands-on and service-related projects for students, and transparency between all levels of Limestone County Schools and its stakeholders.

"As in years past, our LCS board continues to offer quality education with credit to dedicated teachers, support personnel, bus drivers, an outstanding transportation department with new buses and new leadership from a superintendent with over 30 years' experience, who served in a progressive state," she said.

Jackson believes a mentoring program as an extension of the guidance office can provide a confidante and role model to students while at school and provide life lessons to make productive, lifelong learners.

It takes all kinds of professions to make a functioning society: lessons learned through the classroom, through sports, through our awesome LC vocational/technical school and through college-prep, as well as via extracurricular activities,” Jackson said.

She also believes good coaches can have a positive impact on students and that carefully selecting personnel and retaining qualified teachers and coaches is very important. To that end, she promotes accountability in evaluating personnel.

If elected, Jackson hopes to provide a voice for District 4 families by being approachable, listening to concerns, seeking ideas from other systems for handling COVID-19 concerns and expanding virtual learning capabilities.

As an English teacher, Jackson’s favorite quote is from Emerson’s idea of success:

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate the beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived: THIS is the true meaning of success!”

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