• Manhattan Beach MS Principal wins national award!

    ACSA’s Middle grades Principal of the Year, John Jackson was recently honored in Washington, D.C. as the 2015 National Association of Secondary School Principals California (NASSP) Principal of the Year. Jackson was nominated by ACSA for the award for his work as principal of Manhattan Beach Middle School. Manhattan Beach Middle School Principal John Jackson is known as a leader who is able to create a teaching and learning environment that is second to none. “I have seen John Jackson working side by side with maintenance workers, pushing a broom, fixing a copier and helping students with technology. He is a humble leader who will do anything to optimize the learning environment,” said Michael Matthews, superintendent of Manhattan Beach USD. “Our students know Mr. Jackson will make sure they have everything they need for their education each and every day.” Jackson is ACSA’s 2014 Middle Grades Principal of the Year. He took the helm at Manhattan Beach Middle School in 2005. Since then, he has collaborated with district administrators, school staff and the parent community to develop a clear 21st century learning vision for the 1,400-student campus. He ensured implementation of 1:1 iPads throughout the school; led a shift in writing instruction to a Writers Workshop model; created a STEM program with a focus on female students; and worked with teachers to build collaboration and leadership capacity, among many other transformative initiatives. “When I started teaching I always felt there was something else that I could be doing for kids,” Jackson said. “I always thought I was a pretty good teacher, but feel that administration is really my true calling. I like making things work and enjoy the challenge of running a large middle school.” In 2011, when the iPad initiative began, Jackson said nothing worked like it should have, despite a thorough vetting of the product and programs. But he persevered, relying on strong teacher leaders committed to transforming instruction. “Once we had devices in hand and wireless technology throughout the school and district, we’re finding more and better solutions to curriculum delivery,” Jackson said “It’s funny to think back to those early days three years ago when we started this program, because teachers and kids can’t imagine not having access to their iPads today. “ Manhattan Beach Middle School is now an Apple Distinguished Program school, and teachers throughout the state visit the campus to find out how technology can work effectively. Jackson joined ACSA as a student member when he was pursuing his administrative credential. He said Region 14 activities have always been a bright spot throughout his career, which started as a teacher and principal in Torrance USD. “I enjoy learning new things and mingling with my colleagues,” he said. “I have attended several of the academies and have enjoyed the camaraderie of other ACSA members.  I always recommend new administrators to join.” He said he was very honored and humbled to learn he was named Middle Grades Principal of the Year. “I’ve known many of the past award winners, and I’m proud to be in their esteemed company,” Jackson said. “This award is not just for me but for our entire school and district. Their commitment allows me to pursue goals that I would not be able to follow if I didn’t have their support.” When his school first found out about the award, teachers and students organized a “John Jackson Day,” which the principal said was very touching. Superintendent Matthews threw his full support behind the award, saying Jackson is deserving of the statewide honor for his ability to model progressive educational leadership. “He is completely student focused, and he has created a culture of excellence in his school that is inspiring in every way,” Matthews said. Middle grades leaders are dedicated to ensuring young adolescents have the skills and resources needed to succeed in high school, post-secondary education, and life. Middle school students are at a unique crossroads – they are no longer young children, yet they are not yet teenagers – and therefore have their own academic, emotional and developmental challenges. Middle grades leaders strive for a smooth transition between elementary and high schools, and work closely with leaders at all levels to ensure their students are prepared for what lies ahead. A vital element of ACSA's vision is to become increasingly influential and indispensable as the premier organization for educational leaders in California. Service on the ACSA Middle Grades Education Council is a high profile opportunity for members to be at the forefront of state wide leadership in advocacy, professional development, service, collaborative networking, and product development.

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