Monday, May 6, 2013

May 7th, National Teacher Day

May 7th, 2013 is National Teacher Day.  A chance for you to go beyond recognizing your mom or dad (though they are really important) and thank someone who helped you learn or to see things a little differently and in the process gave you the knowledge and tools to be a better you.  So, if you haven't already, send out a shout to a teacher that made a difference in your life.  It doesn't have to be a Teacher teacher (someone who makes his or her living by teaching) it could be anyone who has helped to shape the you that is you.  A mentor, tutor, your sensei, your dance teacher, that guy down the street who was always working in his garage and showed you how to dismount the air compressor of a 1980's Camaro.  Send an email, a card, some flowers, a new wrench or anything to that person and let them know how much they changed your life.  They may be so surprised and touched that this simple gesture will make their entire week.  Do it right now!

(I'll wait)

(Are you done?  Good work)

I have a huge list of folks who have given me their time and their knowledge, and to all of you I want to say thank you ever so much for all you've done for me.  Mrs. Gregory, Mrs. Weines, Mrs. Mitchell, Mrs. Goodwin, Mrs. Wofford, Miss Blaylock (who got me into science), a special thanks to Mr. William Smart from Roosevelt High School for encouraging me to go into the arts, Alice "Bunny" Carter, Courtney Granner, John Clapp, Jim Hummel, Barron Storey and all of the instructors who demanded so much of me as an illustration student at SJSU that I both hated and loved them. Even some of you who follow this blog are teachers and I thank you you all for joining me in this often difficult business of passing on tidbits of knowledge...Happy National Teacher Day!

I am not one to toot my own horn, even though I run this blog which is a tiny bit narcissistic, but I am posting some items I have received recently that made the experience of teaching gratifying.  First I was given an invitation to this year's SJSU Honors Convocation, where student Dean's Scholars and President's Scholars are recognized for their high achieving academic work.  Of course I went and brought an entourage of great people to cheer on Samia and all of the other hard working students from the Animation/Illustration Program at SJSU.  So to you, Samia, well done!  The stairs and 'butt-less' cat are an inside joke from her time in my class.  Jef you realize just how many Jeff Jackson's there are out there?

In my inbox, I discovered this from a student of mine some years back.  Heath Grant, who has gone on to dabble in teaching as well, sent this over and it really made my month.

His email began by describing a class he is currently taking to get his teaching credential and was asked to draft a letter to send to a influential person and that person was  Woot!  Here is his letter to me:

Mr. Jeff Jackson,
            Hi Jeff, I am writing this letter to express my appreciation to you for inspiring me in many ways.  You gave me the inspiration and confidence to succeed in whatever path I chose to pursue in art or in any facet of my life.  I have had many teachers some good and some very bad, but your classes always challenged me in ways that allowed me to do my best and excel in the content we were studying.  In many cases you challenged me in ways I didn't want to be challenged.  Your.... rambunctious personality and excitement made me love attending your class and gave me motivation to push myself.  I wanted to be the one that earned your praise because I knew it didn't come easy.
            I remember in my first class with you, we were doing a sketching assignment and I don't remember if I didn't finish the assignment or just did it poorly but when we had open book critiques with the class, you just wrote the word "DOOM"  in my book and handed it back.  This was totally light hearted but I still have that book and I love that page.  It made me want to impress you and work hard.  I appreciated your form of critiquing rather than the teacher you had, that would just staple McDonalds applications to your work. 
            When we worked on story boards you told us how time consuming and demanding these projects would be.  Be prepared to post your boards up around the room and then pitch them to the class.  Then we would critique the effectiveness of the flow of the boards and the boards individually, from design to camera angle to- you better have a good motivation for that damn camera move!  Then we would have to revise, revise, revise.  I don't think I ever worked harder in a class then in this one.  But I don't think that I ever had a class that I got more gratification out of either.  I also enjoyed you looking for that dumb dog in every assignment after I put him in the first one. 
            I never said it, but I appreciated how you seemed to take me under your wing at times and be more critical of me then with the others because you knew what I was capable of and the potential I had.  I am grateful that we can still call each other friends and make fun of each other when needed.   You are inspiring to me in how to be an effective teacher, though I would guess you might not think so.  Don't worry I'll leave out some of the expletives.  The excitement you bring, the demand for hard work and the respect you earn from your students, along with the respect and high expectations you have for them makes me excited to teach.  Thanks for all you did and for all the memories. 

Here's Heath pitching away with his 'dumb dog' hidden in those boards somewhere.  Photo is from here.
So, thank a teacher!  They/we really don't do it for the glory but every now and then it fills our hearts with pride and warmth to see our students spread their wings and step out of the 'nest' to fly off and do great things.  And then after that good feeling goes away and we have to grade...we go back to despising you guys (wink).  Thanks for stopping by!

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