DHS teacher to get taste of administration duties

Anatomy teacher Keith Jackson watches on during a halftime of a soccer game at Demopolis High soccer game. (file photo)

After seven years in the classroom, Demopolis High School anatomy teacher Keith Jackson will finally get a taste of administrative duties next spring.

Thanks to a unique grant program, Jackson will leave step away from his teaching duties in the spring semester and spend the second half of the academic year shadowing Westside Elementary School Principal Tony Pittman.

The grant is provided by the Alabama State Department of Education and provides a new avenue for teachers looking to dip their feet into administrative waters. Jackson is nearing completion of his Master’s Degree at the University of West Alabama and lacks only his internship to complete the course of study. However, given his teaching duties, fulfilling the internship obligation presents a unique challenge as it does with most students in the program.

“I found out about (the grant) through the University of West Alabama. I’m working on my Master’s over there and I’ve gotten to the point where I just have an internship left. They sent me an e-mail about it and told me there was a Webinar I needed to watch,” Jackson said of how he learned of the program. “I asked the chair of the education department at UWA if that was something she would recommend me for. She recommended me and she actually helped me to write the grant. Also, (Demopolis City Schools Superintendent of Education Dr. Al Griffin), he and I sat down and looked over the portion he had to fill out and he was willing to do it.”

As part of the grant, the school system will receive $25,000 to cover the expense of hiring a temporary teacher to fill Jackson’s slot while shadows Pittman at WES.

“I had thought about (going into education administration) as an opportunity for my family for a while. I started working on my Master’s in instructional leadership last fall. The internship will actually be covered by this grant,” Jackson said. “I didn’t really expect to get it to tell you the truth. I figured with so many people applying for it, I’d give it a shot.”

The veteran teacher contrasted the program’s design with the drawbacks that existed when he completed his student teaching, noting that this grant initiative calls for much more hands-on experience than does the typical student teacher paradigm.

“I think it is a good opportunity. Going into teaching, I really didn’t know what to expect. You get some hours, but you’re basically not hands on. You’re seeing what’s going on and you’re not getting to fill in the role,” Jackson said. “But being in this position for that period of time is going to give me some good experience. The reason Dr. Griffin and I talked about me being at the elementary school is because I’ve been at the high school for so long and he felt I knew a lot about how high school operates and he wanted me to see the younger kids and how that level operates.”