When Greg Jackson began teaching chemistry at Marietta High School in Marietta, Ga., he was the first Black man to teach at the school in 25 years. Being “the only” was a role Greg knew all too well. Growing up in Covington, Ga., he was often the lone Black student in his gifted and accelerated classes from elementary school all the way to high school.
This summer, Greg has another opportunity to introduce children who look like him to the joys of science as an instructor at STEAM Academy 2020, a first-of-its-kind online program hosted by the T.D. Jakes Foundation in conjunction with the Dallas Mayor’s Office, the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and the Dallas Regional Chamber. A five-week program, STEAM Academy 2020 is now in its third week and will run through the week of July 13th.
“The teacher population should match the population of your community, and a lot of times, that doesn’t happen,” said Greg, an account manager at Accelerate Learning, the provider of STEMscopes, the award-winning STEM curriculum at the heart of STEAM Academy 2020. “When I heard about this program, I was excited to be part of it. I do a lot volunteer work with students. I like the energy, and they help you learn, as well.”
Greg earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Chemistry from Valdosta State University and then went straight into teaching. After four years, he was ready for a change. He accepted a position at STEMScopes, based in Houston, which gave him an opportunity to combine his love of science with a growing interest in sales.
As an account manger for the Southeastern U.S., Greg covers a lot of communities with large Black populations. He works with teachers to help them understand the material and then customizes lessons to make them feel more comfortable. Most lessons follow the basic “5E Model,” which is what teachers use everyday in their classrooms—engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate.
After a year and a half away from the classroom, Greg admits that he misses the interaction of working one-on-one with children. One day, he hopes to open his own school, one that follows an international model of learning.
“Cultural exchange is the best way to learn,” he said. “There is no better education than seeing how other people live.”
Greg recalls a trip he took with his high school class—he and his classmates traveled to 10 cities in the U.K. and Ireland in 10 weeks—and the transformative effect it had on his life.
“My first trip out of the country, with my school, changed my life,” said Greg, who also taught English to students in Brazil one summer. “I realized the world is much bigger than America, and we’re not the only people here. It made me want to travel. I believe that’s the real education.”
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