It’s back to school season again and for this month’s West Side Spotlight, we met with Dr. Jana Edward, Principal of Jackson Elementary. This K-6 school is located in the north east quadrant of Fairpark is home to over 500 students as well as 35 teachers and administrators. Dr. Edward has been with the school for seven years, and has her Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Utah. As an administrator, she has always worked in bilingual education and she said she loves leading a dual emersion school that her child also went to Jackson. She said, “I love the community! They have been so involved and supportive of Jackson. Just look at our Community Garden! It happened in a weekend and we feel the support from the community!”
One unique aspect of Jackson as a west side school is their veteran staff. “The majority of teachers have been here for over 5 years, with several spanning their entire careers,” she said proudly. Jackson also has a preschool and an thriving Dual Emersion program where two thirds of the K-5 students are taught in both English and Spanish. Only three schools offer Dual Emersion programs in Salt Lake.
Edward is very proud that Jackson was the recipient of an “Apple Connected Grant” which equipped the school with iPads, MacBook Airs, Apple TVs and projectors. “We are the only one to one Apple supported elementary school in the district. We have professional development support from Apple and an entire program,” she said. The students are in an immersive technological environment where they are able to produce learning themselves while sitting in class, using iBooks creator, or KeyNote to make presentations for discussion. “Watching 2nd graders using iPads to create presentations is pretty cool. We also use them for math fluency.” The school is also home to the Beverly Taylor Sorenson program where 3rd through 6th graders learn to play the violin. The after school program called the Gracenotes keeps students busy for up to 12 hours a week learning to play the violin and how to compose music.
For residents reading this article thinking, “I don’t have any kids,” or “My kids are grown up. What does this have to do with me?” Schools are the backbone of our community. As tax payers, we support our local schools and having good schools brings residents to our neighborhood. Having good schools is known to increase our property values and build the positive brand of our community. “The Fairpark Community Council is committed to building strong relationships with the schools in our area. It’s what’s best for our community long-term,” said Jade Sarver, Treasurer of the FCC.
Jackson is a school that encourages students to think about college, even at a young age as an AVID school. Also known as Advancement Via Individual Determination, AVID trains educators to use proven practices in order to prepare students for success in high school, college, and a career, especially students traditionally underrepresented in higher education. Jackson is a proud partner in the Adelante Program which is a partnership with the University of Utah where students take field trips and have visits from mentoring first-year, first-generation volunteer students of color. The program has been going for 11 years and the first cohort starts college in the next two years. “It’s never too early to talk to kids about college and expose them to a college campus,” she said. School starts the week of 8/22 and the school recently hosted a successful Back To School Night Cookout on 8/18. For more information, visit https://jackson.slcschools.org.