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  • May 16 / Varsity Girls TennisLightridge - 1, Riverside - 5
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  • May 13 / Varsity Boys TennisLightridge - 3, Independence - 5
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Lightridge News

The student produced news site for Lightridge High School

Lightridge News

Lightridge News

In order to survive, country music needs to look at how it is hostile to some segments of its fan base.
Op-Ed: Country music's diversity problem
Sabry Tate, Managing Editor • May 9, 2024
A Loudoun County Sherriffs Office Deputy and a drug sniffing canine conducted a search on May 3.
LCSO brings drug sniffing dog to Lightridge
Panchami Rangaraju, Editor-in-Chief • May 3, 2024
Assistant Principal Dr. Kim Jackson (top) and senior Tre Holley (bottom) give blood.
Red Cross Club holds blood drive
Sabry Tate, Managing Editor • May 1, 2024

Meet the APs: Kimberly Jackson

Provided by Kimberly Jackson
After being named the 2021 Loudoun County Teacher of the Year, Dr. Kimberly Jackson moved to Lightridge as an Assistant Principal.

In college, Lightridge Assistant Principal Dr. Kimberly Jackson took on the job of mushroom picking, an occupation that was not for the weak. Jackson and her co-workers would be transported inside mines on large carts, where they were met with two layers of mushrooms grown in manure. The mushrooms were then extracted, cut, and thrown into a bucket.

“If you got a bad bunch of mushrooms, they would be thrown into the ‘crap’ bucket, and apparently the crap mushrooms were sold to Campbell’s Foods for their mushroom soup,” Jackson revealed. She didn’t let the pungent odor of the manure discourage her.

“It stunk to the high heavens, but I made so much money,” said Jackson. “It’s going to sound low, but it was probably ten dollars an hour, and it was so many years ago it felt like a lot of money.”

Jackson grew up in Pennsylvania, around a half an hour north of Pittsburgh. She attended a very large high school, with about a thousand students in each grade. She said that she enjoyed it there academically and felt very prepared for college, but the competition pool was big for athletics.

“It felt like you had to be a semi-professional athlete to make any kind of team, so I played flute,” Jackson recalled.

Jackson originally applied to Indiana University of Pennsylvania as a computer science major, but she fell in love with AP Chemistry during her senior year of high school and switched her major to chemistry before she began her term. After about two years, she realized that she wasn’t cut out to spend her entire life in the lab, so she switched to a food science major with a minor in chemistry.

After college, Jackson originally did not plan on going back to school, but peer pressure got to her.

It stunk to the high heavens, but I made so much money!

— Dr. Kimberly Jackson

“Everybody I was hanging around with was going to graduate school, so I applied to graduate school and to get an MBA,” Jackson explained. Graduate school was tough on Jackson mentally and academically, especially by going into business after studying science for many years. In order to motivate herself through her tough times, she often reflected on her past and what she wanted in her future.

“I grew up poor and I never wanted to be poor again, so I used a picture of a Mazda, like a little sports car, and I had that posted up on my desk that would remind me why I was working so hard if I ever got burned out,” said Jackson.

After surviving school, Jackson received her master’s degree in health administration and started working at a psychiatric hospital. During this time, psychiatric conditions were not economically fixed, a detail that Jackson liked. She wanted to work in an area that was still fiscally free and doctor’s weren’t as constrained by insurance.

“Some guy or girl behind a desk in an insurance company that has never taken one medical course in their life telling doctors how much they could charge seemed patently unfair,” said Jackson. “I didn’t want to support that initiative and I thought psych would be a better place.”

Once she began working in psychiatric conditions, she started to have doubts on if this career choice was the one for her.

“It freaked me out,” she admitted. “I only stayed six months and decided to move into pharmaceuticals, which I loved every second of.”

After one of her friends from graduate school got a job with a pharmaceutical company, Jackson decided to switch industries too. Jackson thought, if her friend could do it, she certainly could and applied to a few companies. After receiving the job, Jackson moved to Baltimore to begin a new chapter of her career and “made sweet bank.”

The jump from a career in pharmaceuticals to teaching was a drastic and unexpected one.

It began when Jackson started taking her son, Troy, to soccer practice and she met the parent of one of the team members who was entering a career switchers program. Career switcher is an accelerated program that allows people with diverse work experience a pathway to getting a teaching license. Her initial reaction was how wild the possibility of completely changing career paths was so accessible. However, Jackson didn’t decide to take the leap until a near tragedy.

Jackson was driving to work when someone cut over three lanes on the highway right in front of her.

“I’m watching this thinking, that guy is going to cause an accident!” said Jackson.

A UPS truck in front of her, startled by the erratic driver, slammed on his brakes and stopped his truck in the middle of the highway. Jackson ran into the back of the truck.

I said, God, if you get me out of this car…I’ll get off the road, I’ll become a teacher and I will devote my life to kids.

— Dr. Kimberly Jackson

“My car folded, and all the electricity went out, the airbag didn’t blow,” said Jackson. Unable to honk the car horn and turn on the lights, the only thought racing through Jackson’s mind is how she was in the middle of the highway, vulnerable to getting hit again. Desperate and scared, she continued to bang against the car door. Jackson was in the middle of the process to adopt a child, and her mind focused on the little boy that she had already fallen in love with.

“I said, God, if you get me out of this car to bring my son home, I will quit pharmaceuticals,” said Jackson. “I’ll get off the road, I’ll become a teacher and I will devote my life to kids.”

When Jackson banged against the door one last time, it popped open. Within a month of the crash, she entered into a career switcher program and was on the road to beginning her teaching career.

She started teaching at Farmwell Station Middle School, became a dean at Blue Ridge Middle School, taught math at Broad Run High School, and eventually switched to Riverside High School to be with her three children for their senior years. In 2021 she was named the Loudoun County Teacher of the Year.

Outside of her varied work life, Jackson has plenty to keep her busy in her free time. She loves to foster dogs, especially pugs. She is a self admitted TV show binge watcher, her favorite show being “Ted Lasso.” Jackson loves to cook and try new dishes. Her passion for tennis helps her get out of the house and into the beautiful outdoors.

Work itself is fun for her. She’s “living the dream job.” She was brought to Lightridge as the expansion assistant principal because of the growing size of the student body. She found Lightridge to be very warm and welcoming and has settled right in.

“While Dr. Jackson has worked in a variety of different careers,” said Principal Ryan Hitchman, when asked about Jackson, “…this is her calling.”

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About the Contributor
Shreyani Giri
Shreyani is a senior and a first year member of the staff.

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