BY JOHANNA THATCH BRIGGS OF THE WILMINGTON JOURNAL
Reading, writing, learning, negotiating, and managing…these are the five scholar commandments by which “legendary” Emma Jackson forged her path during an amazing journey in teaching and educational leadership. As a young girl, growing up in Belize, Mrs. Jackson discovered reading as an engaging activity that kept her entertained. This fundamental skill fueled her thirst for knowledge and shaped her into the beloved educator that many in the community have grown to cherish.
Like many leaders in education, Mrs. Jackson’s 52 year career began on the front line–in the classroom. After graduating from Fayetteville State University, Mrs. Jackson accepted her first teaching position at James B. Dudley Elementary School, which was once located on the Northside of Wilmington, during the era of segregation. After her first stint, she went on to teach at Peabody and Alderman schools, and, in 1975, she worked at Snipes Elementary School, where she became the first assistant principal. As the New Hanover County Schools began to integrate, Mrs. Jackson was charged with the challenge of serving as principal at Wrightsville Beach Elementary School. Indeed, no challenge proved to be too great for Mrs. Jackson, as she became a trailblazer for African American women in education and administration in New Hanover County.
Ultimately, Mrs. Jackson served as principal at several other schools in the New Hanover County School System, including Bellamy, Pine Valley and Gregory School of Math and Science. As many in the community would have loved for her to remain at Gregory, greater opportunities were on the horizon for Mrs. Jackson. She took her career to the next level when she secured a position with the Board of Education in 2006 as Executive Director of Instructional Services and Title I. During her tenure at central office, she also served as Federal Programs Director and Director of Elementary Education.
After five decades of serving children, parents, faculty, staff and the community at-large, Mrs. Jackson will be embarking on her newest chapter in life–retirement. On Monday, December 12, her longtime commitment and service were recognized by colleagues, family and friends during a retirement celebration held at the Board of Education. Although Mrs. Jackson will truly be missed, one can safely assume that this is a simple “so long” and not a goodbye, for Mrs. Jackson still serves her community through the membership of organizations such as Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and Links, Incorporated. The wife, mother and grandmother is also an active member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, where she has taught Sunday School and held many leadership positions. Without a doubt, Emma Jackson has enjoyed a rewarding career in a field that is still considered one of the most honorable professions in an ever evolving society. Of her many years of service in education. she humbly told The Wilmington Journal, “It has truly been a pleasure to serve the children.”
Among the numerous enviable honors which she has received during her career, she was awarded by Governor Pat McCrory The Order of the Long Leaf Pine award. This is high among North Carolina’s most prestigious awards and most distinguished honors bestowed upon any civilian in the State of North Carolina. Awardees must have given the State of North Carolina over 30 years of extraordinary service.
Mrs. Jackson is definitely deserving of our commendations and congratulations, and we join this community and the State of North Carolina in thanking her for unblemished service and wishing her the best retirement for which one could hope.