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The end of an era: Patrick Jackson’s retirement

Zac Clingenpeel

Ali Randazzo, Kirkwood High School

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Red must be his color. He grew up fiddling on a little red toy guitar gifted by his grandfather in Mississippi. He drives a cherry red car and every performance, whether it is on the NKMS cafetorium stage or Carnegie Hall, he wears his lucky red kimono.

Patrick Jackson, KSD orchestra teacher, began his career in KSD in 1991 with 38 students. Jackson has grown the orchestra program significantly throughout his time with currently over 405 string players in the district. After Jackson’s roller coaster ride of a career in music, from a middle school band, to Interlochen music camp, to teaching students himself, Jackson plans to retire the spring of 2017.

“I have so much respect and care for my students,” Jackson said. “After 31 years [in education], it’s time to give it to someone else. Someone who is young and has fresh standards to keep it going.”

Jackson may not be a familiar face to all KHS students. He spends his days running from NKMS beginning strings class, to KHS Symphonic and Concert rehearsals then back to NKMS middle school orchestra. Yet this fast paced atmosphere is comfortable for the teacher of 31 years.

“I decided to go out one year to teach,” Jackson said. “To get some quick cash. How stupid of me,” Jackson said cracking his signature grin.

Jackson said he went through a rough start in his career to get to the level in KSD by applying for teaching jobs no one wanted at low income schools. He began his teaching career in education at Ford Middle School in the St. Louis Public School District in 1987.

“The first red flag was it was October, and they had no teacher,” Jackson said. “The assistant principal told me the students pushed the last band director out the window, literally. I’m not sure if they actually pushed him out the window, or he just escaped through the window. I left with knots in my stomach.”

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