A teacher's journey and love of teaching amid challenges

Beatrice JacksonBeatrice Jackson’s journey in teaching started at the age of 12 when she found herself teaching three-year-olds in Primary as part of her church calling. Jackson realized she loved to teach and wanted to become an elementary teacher.

Teaching was not a mere career choice but a dream. Jackson dreamed of having her own class of third graders and the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students and their families.

Jackson graduated from BYU in elementary education in 1965 with an emphasis in the arts and sciences. After a positive student teaching experience, she was introduced to her first—and most challenging—teaching position in a fourth-grade class.

“I was given no opportunity to observe the class ahead of time, to get acquainted with the students, or to consult the current teacher to learn her routine,” Jackson explained. “On the first day of teaching . . . I literally walked in with the students.”

Jackson spent the next few months of her first teaching job struggling with disciplining the children and also facing teaching challenges. During this experience, she started questioning her career choice.

It wasn’t until Jackson received a phone call inviting her to teach a first-grade class that she regained confidence and remembered her love for teaching. This new teaching position came as a life-changing moment. 

For those thinking about going into elementary education, Jackson gave this advice: “It will be some of the most challenging, yet most rewarding, times of your life. Those who are the best teachers are not in it for the pay, but truly want to make a difference in the lives of their students and [want] to help them learn.”

Jackson stepped out of the classroom for 26 years, during which she raised her children, volunteered in community organizations and schools, and played string bass in several local orchestras. After this break, she eventually traded her PTA president position for the classroom, and went back into teaching. She finally had the experience and support of a team of teachers to ensure her success.

Jackson enjoyed working with and watching the growth of her second and third graders for 11 years. She found joy and energy serving others through teaching. 

“When I am creating visual aids or visualizing a simpler, more effective way to teach a concept, I am totally absorbed, and when I see my student grasp a concept I am teaching, I am exhilarated,” Jackson said.

Aside from her classroom, Jackson enjoyed working with the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) students in an after-school program where she helped students create and produce musicals, write books, and engage in memorable activities. 

Jackson introduced the students to “Discovery Time,” her weekly activity in which students were challenged to explore areas other than reading and math. During the activity, students would rotate through five different stations for five minutes each and record their findings. Stations included science experiments, poetry and rhyming, social and scientific studies, biography readings, or vocabulary exercises using dictionaries.

Her journey as a teacher came with challenges, but Jackson said she found comfort in the gospel. She realized the gospel could apply to all parts of her life, even her teaching. 

Jackson was honored as Teacher of the Year in 2003 for the Ontario Center School in the Cucamonga School District of San Bernardino County, California, representing a total of 17,000 teachers. She is married to Samuel Wallace Jackson and they have two children and eight grandchildren. In 2008, she gained custody of two of their grandchildren, and she dedicates her time to teaching them and exercising her passion for teaching by volunteering in their school classes.

“Today I am wearing a T-shirt that says, ‘Never Underestimate the Power of a Grandma with a Teaching Degree,’” Jackson said. “I guess teaching is in my blood to stay!”

Writer: Lorraine Bailey
Contact: Shauna Valentine (801) 422 8562