Rob Jackson ’95 MSA ’00, recognized as a team-builder and innovator, in May was named the 2011 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year.
State Superintendent June Atkinson (with Jackson, above) commended Jackson, principal at Waxhaw’s Cuthbertson High School in Union County, saying, “Rob exemplifies what it takes to be a great leader: dedication to his staff’s success, genuine interest in each student, faithfulness to community involvement and a driving commitment to academic achievement.”
Jackson said he believes all students are capable of success, regardless of their background. “One of my greatest joys to date has been the graduation of three of my juniors last year who were told by their former schools’ principals that they were too far behind to graduate with their peers,” Jackson said. “These students didn’t give up, and their teachers didn’t give up. Through a lot of hard work by all, they were able to graduate on time. Students are worthy of our very best.”
The honor was a repeat of sorts for Western Carolina University. Jackson succeeds Jan King ’92, last year’s winner and the principal at Glenn C. Marlow Elementary in Henderson County. “The College of Education and Allied Professions is proud of its stellar, nationally recognized programs and the successes of its students,” said Perry Schoon, dean of the college. “Rob exemplifies everything Western Carolina believes in.” Marcia Perry MSA ’00 EdS ’03, principal at Haw Creek Elementary in Buncombe County, also was among the eight finalists for the award.
Parents and staff say Jackson rallies people. When he was named the first principal at a new elementary school in 2002, he organized parent committees to raise money and have a playground built in time for the start of school. Michael Roark, an English teacher at Cuthbertson High, praised Jackson as “an incredible community-builder.”
Jackson has a record of academic excellence. Cuthbertson High opened in August 2009, and that year it earned the state’s highest grade in the state testing program. He has led Cuthbertson into the global realm, co-chairing a committee to promote and recognize global education in all district schools. Cuthbertson participates in a Danish school partnership, and earlier this year, when Jackson was named Union County Principal of the Year, the awards ceremony was conducted via Skype because Jackson was in Denmark, participating in an educational exchange program.
Jackson, who is completing work on a doctorate from Nova Southeastern University, served in the U.S. Navy and as a school secretary and teacher before moving into administration. As the state’s Principal of the Year, Jackson will receive $3,000 for his school, $3,000 for personal use and a scholarship for a 10-day educational tour of China. He also will advise the State Board of Education and will chair the selection committee for the 2012 Principal of the Year.
An article by Steve Lyttle of The Charlotte Observer contributed to this story.