David Jackson remembers the exact moment he realized he wanted to be a teacher.
“It was early in spring semester of my senior year at University of Florida,” says Jackson. “I thought I was going to be a lawyer, so I was working on some LSAT material and writing my senior thesis, when I had an epiphany that teaching is what I really wanted to do.”
Affirming that epiphany was a phone call he received a week later from a teacher at nearby Oak Hall School. That’s where Jackson spent all four years of his college career volunteering and helping students in the Latin Club by tutoring them and taking them to competitions.
“The teacher called to tell me she was getting married and leaving Oak Hall, so her position would be open. She encouraged me to apply, which I did.”
From there, the pieces fell into place. Jackson’s longtime love of Latin, history, the Classics, philosophy and politics were at the forefront of his teaching career.
“I got the job at Oak Hall and loved every minute of it,” he says. “I taught middle school Latin for a number of years as well as some high school history classes. I was able to build the Latin program and enjoyed a lot of success with the kids. We grew it to the point where my wife, Generosa, who has a Ph.D. in classical studies, came on board to teach with me and I eventually moved into school administration.”
Jackson says he wasn’t necessarily interested in the administrative role at first, but his colleagues at Oak Hall encouraged him to pursue it.
“I ended up liking it a lot and it gave me the opportunity to affect the entire culture of the school and to mentor people.”
Jackson spent 18 years at Oak Hall –
22 years if you count the time he volunteered during college. He is originally from Michigan and Generosa is from New Jersey. After living in Florida for nearly 30 years, they pined for seasonal weather.
With the previous Head of School at Canterbury planning to leave at the end of the 2019-2020 year, Jackson applied for the position and he and Generosa came to visit the campus in January.
“We just loved the school and the community and the city. It was great,” he says.
Jackson was offered the position and accepted. He officially started July 1.
“I am very much looking forward to opening our doors for the new school year on Aug. 26. I know my first year will be spent getting to know the community and really listening to different perspectives to assess the program which has had tremendous success. Canterbury is well-known not only in Indiana, but throughout the Midwest and even nationally. My job is to come in and help it grow.”
The search to find the Head of School is one taken very seriously by the staff, board and families at Canterbury. Sixteen people served on the official search committee for about 5-and-a-half months.
“It was very important that we had representation from as many constituencies as possible. We had several board members and trustees, current parents and former parents, some alums, faculty leadership representation and Canterbury Foundation Board representation,” says Kathy Callen, a member of the search committee who has a long history with the school as a parent and board member. “There was confidentiality, but also transparency to the school community with updates. Serving on the committee was a big commitment, but we all have a strong love of the school and we all want to see it be successful into the future. We’re thrilled about David and we really feel the selection process worked. We needed and wanted somebody who could be inspirational to people to become better and to reach higher and we feel David has the ability to do that.”
“David has a ‘can do’ attitude and knows the importance of providing opportunities for students to be challenged intellectually,” says Bob Schantz, who has a 25-year history with Canterbury as a teacher, english department chair and high school director. “He’s humble and extraordinarily considerate. He’s also been a positive and realistic voice in the midst of the pandemic.”
Jackson knows the pandemic will play a role in the coming school year and has the potential to create uncertainties for educators and students alike. Nevertheless, he is confident the Canterbury community will thrive.
“I believe very much in the phrase, ‘Champion every student,’ “ he says. “Every student has the capacity within them to succeed and love learning. Every student needs someone to be a champion for them. It’s that sort of family atmosphere and the ability to really know and connect with every student that sets Canterbury apart.”