Loyola Academy is pleased to welcome Terri S. Jackson as assistant principal for student services beginning the 2020–2021 school year. Jackson is a progressive educator and school leader with a deep commitment to helping students discover and develop their strengths and passions. She has held several leadership positions in the last fifteen years that she's worked in independent schools which include diversity practitioner, middle school director and assistant head of school.
Jackson earned her B.A. from Dillard University in New Orleans where she double majored in English and public relations with a minor in Spanish. While at Dillard, she became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and remains an active and proud member of the service organization today. After undergrad, she went on to receive an M.A. in American Literature from the University of Vermont.
Today, Jackson lives in the North Center neighborhood of Chicago with her husband, Marcus, two daughters, Bailey and Maddie, and dog, Nico. She is currently collaborating with a committee of Loyola Academy students, faculty, and staff members to organize a symposium on the topic of Young Women of Color in Independent Schools that will be virtually hosted at Loyola in March 2021. Stay tuned for more details in the coming months!
We are thrilled to welcome Ms. Jackson to the Loyola community and to share the following interview with you.
What are you most looking forward to in your role as AP?
I am overjoyed to be a part of such a dynamic community of educators and learners. In my role as assistant principal for student services, I am looking forward to getting to know Loyola Academy, witnessing phenomenal teaching and learning, and seeing the school through the eyes, ears, and hearts of our exemplary student body. An integral part of my educational and leadership philosophy is grounded in empowering students and creating brave and necessary spaces for students to make meaningful contributions to their communities. This is work that I take seriously. I am also looking forward to maintaining and implementing new ways to create a safe, accepting, welcoming and fun school culture and climate that ensures that our learners have what they need to be successful inside and outside of the classroom. Already in my first month, I have sat down with individual students and faculty/staff or Zoomed with larger groups to begin this process. Great things are in the works.
I am truly excited about what's to come post COVID-19 when the halls are bustling with our entire student body and faculty members. I am looking forward to a time when I am able to welcome parents into my office to sit down in conversation with them and when the evenings and weekends are jam-packed with athletic and cocurricular activities. When I am able to connect and form meaningful, authentic relationships with my school community is when I am able to do my very best work as a school leader.
What will be your priorities during this first year?
In addition to getting to know the Loyola Academy community and its traditions, my priorities during my first year include examining our policies, programs and procedures that have aided us in and prevented us from fulfilling our mission and core values. I represent a fresh pair of eyes as the newest member of the principal's leadership team and as a mission-driven leader, one of my many priorities is to ensure that our espoused values—those posted on our website, printed in our brochures and written on our walls—and our enacted values—what we do, especially when no one is watching or documenting—mirror one another and are one and the same.
The True Colors of Loyola Academy Instagram account has been a frequent topic of conversation in my office both with faculty/staff and with students. Such an account is not unique to Loyola. I am proud to be a part of a community that doesn't simply view this account as a negative mark against us, but rather as a way to examine who we are and who we want to be. Loyola Academy isn't perfect, but I want our students, past, present and future, to know that while we do not engage with every post or comment, we do reflect on the experiences shared on the account seriously to review our policies, to examine how we can improve to be a more inclusive and equitable community. Continuing these conversations outside of social media so that we are able to transform our ways of thinking and being is definitely a priority of mine.
How does Loyola's motto women and men for others resonate in your life?
1 Corinthians 12:25-26 reads, "...there should be no division in the body, but that its members should have mutual concern for one another. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." These are words I strive to live by and work by. If one member of or one group in our community is feeling excluded or unwelcomed, we should all work together to find the root cause whether that's systems and structures that have been in place for decades or a curriculum that needs to be revised. All hands should be working and mending the fabric of our community's culture and climate to make the necessary changes to ensure that we are adhering to the needs of all. This sentiment of the importance of looking out for your fellow man is one that resonates with me and that has been a part of my life since I can remember. It was preached to me during my formative years in Sunday school and Vacation Bible School growing up in Texas and Louisiana where my grandparents lived and my grandmother still lives next door to the church our family has attended for over forty years. It is a sentiment that has remained in my heart and mind.
In my own family, I make sure that we devote time outside of ourselves to give to and to help others who are less fortunate than we are. I have stressed the importance of reflecting on time in service of others. In these moments of reflection, it is crucial that we recognize how we are not only impacting the lives of others but we are also impacting our very own lives, character, ideology and values.
What life experiences proved to be most formative in your path?
Becoming a mother, becoming a wife, and becoming comfortable and confident in my skin and in my role as an educational leader have all proven to be the most formative parts of my journey in life. I've been in each of these roles for quite some time now, but with each and every passing moment, I learn something new about myself, about life, about the world, and about the people whom I live, love, work, and grow with.
Who or what inspires you?
My children, Bailey (13) and Maddie (12) inspire me each and every day. In volleyball and soccer, respectively, they have found a sense of purpose and passions in their lives that move them to be resilient and stronger self-advocates. They speak up for themselves. They speak up for others. They question processes with respect, curiosity and with their eyes on equity. They always have to some degree. The way they move in the world inspires me. Although I know that this is how I have raised them to be—to speak up and to take up space unabashedly, this is not how I was raised. I never want them to lose their voices.
What is the best piece of advice you've received that you'd like to share with students?
The best piece of advice that I would like to share with students is actually advice that I have shared with students for years, but have only recently truly learned to receive it and apply it to my own life. In the past, when delivering this advice, I would comment on how it is oftentimes easier for teenagers to find ways to fit into a group than it is for them to belong to a group. However, this can easily apply to adults as well. It is important to understand the difference between belonging and fitting in. My advice to students is to strive to find space where you have a sense of belonging, because when you belong to a community you are able to show up as your authentic, unadulterated self. Whereas when you fit in, it is highly likely that you have changed a part or parts of your character, beliefs, likes and dislikes to be accepted by a group. From the moment I stepped foot into the building, I felt as though Loyola Academy was a place where I can show up as my entire self. That is a feeling that I want all community members to experience.