Frank Jackson '14

Upper School Spanish.

Frank graduated from Chestnut Hill Academy in 2014 and started teaching at SCH Academy in 2020. 

What inspired you to become a teacher?

I think being a teacher has always been in the back of my mind. My father was a special education teacher for high school students for over 30 years. My mom was a professor, though I never got to see that side of her. Despite that upbringing, I vowed I’d never “settle” and become a teacher like my parents. However, when I presented with the opportunity to serve as a teacher, I discovered that the mission of a teacher matched perfectly with who I am and who I want to become. The opportunity to serve kids, sharpen their minds, and challenge myself daily is incredible. I am especially drawn toward students of color who almost never see a black male as a teacher, but benefit tremendously when they do. With two educators as parents, it is as inevitable as it is a mission to pave it forward as they did for me.
What attracted you to teach at SCH?

SCH specifically attracted me because of the opportunity to help students who I see myself in with the freedom and support of a school that believes in students potential. Personally I can relate to the deep feeling of isolation, awkwardness, and even anger that a white dominant space can create for young black students who are just now grappling with their own identity. I remember questioning if I belonged, overcompensating to fit in and losing myself in the process. It’s a tough tug of war that happens internally for students of color and the only solidarity available are the few other classmates whom you see in the moments before, after and between classes. I want to be a welcoming face, a home base, and a familiar perspective for those students who simply just want to exist unapologetically and safely. This school has its flaws still in making the school a community for those students. I wanted to be a part of the change to shake things up so they don’t feel as I and countless others did. 

What part of SCH’s mission or values is most meaningful to you as a teacher?

I am here with a commitment to improve diversity and inclusive actions for our students of color who may feel on the outside at times. The opportunity to lead in that way with SCH’s new commitment to improve is what I find most meaningful. I have failed if we do not move closer to being an inclusive, anti-racist community. It is in that part of the mission that drives my purpose. 

What do you enjoy most about teaching and why?

I enjoy expanding students’ minds on the world they are most familiar with, pushing them outside of their comfort zones to new perspectives. When the lightbulb switches on, I feel a part of something much greater than myself.  

What question has a student asked you that really surprised you or made you think?

How did your experience at CHA as a black male shape you? It made me reflect on the positive and negative about my experience and how grateful I am for both. It brought me right to where I now with a perspective I wouldn’t trade for the world. I met my best friend here, traveled abroad, learned resilience, and the power of being genuinely myself.

Do you have a favorite teaching story or moment?

My favorite teaching story occurred at my previous school. I taught at an under-resourced public high school in Dallas, Texas. A student of mine who I still keep in touch with today was quite a mouse. She struggled with eye contact and the motivation to complete any work. One day in class, I went over to help her through an assignment. She stared down at her paper and said, “I can’t do it.” Having heard this from her before, I told her to put her pencil down and to simply look at me and say I can do it. She refused, repeating that she couldn’t over and over. Soon I made her laugh and for maybe 30 minutes I periodically told her she could, that she was capable. As she walked out of class, she whispered, “I can do it.” She later wrote me a letter and thanked me for believing in her. That moment and that letter have stuck with me and remind me of the power we have as teachers to shift perspectives and give hope.

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