Story by Jack Essenburg, Walker Valley Freshman
Guidance is a central part of any school, giving counselors a tough task to handle.
Guidance is involved with everything from testing and scheduling for everyone at the school, but the counselors still try their hardest to help every individual student and to make an impact on students’ and teachers’ lives inside and out of school every day.
Mr. Richard Jackson is the senior counselor at Walker Valley High School. Mr. Jackson grew up in Beaufort, South Carolina, and later came to Cleveland, Tennessee, to attend Lee University.
At Lee, Mr. Jackson met his amazing wife, Mrs. Sharon Jackson, and they later had three children: Anna Grace, a Walker Valley Freshman; Spencer, an Ocoee Middle School sixth grader; and Lincoln who will be turning six in March.
Mr. Jackson received a Master’s Degree in school counseling, leading to a job as a school counselor at Valley View Elementary School for three years. He then moved to Walker Valley in 2005, and has been the senior counselor ever since.
“Any counseling department, specifically at a high school, is like the heart of a school. All the blood flows through that heart, and is distributed within the body. Everything that is done at a high school goes through the Guidance Department.” Mr. Jackson gives examples such as testing, registration, discipline, graduation, and setting up the Master Schedule.
Mr. Jackson believes that developing relationships with kids is a big part of being successful at doing what he does. He loves working with kids and could definitely fit in with any grade level of students.
On paper, Mr. Jackson believes his biggest responsibility is the stuff like graduation rate and ACT scores, but “What my true responsibility is is the mental health of the students here at Walker Valley. To make sure you feel safe, and that if you need somewhere to go you have a safe place to come talk. I work with seniors and so many times I make sure that they stay in school and that kind of thing. That is the counseling responsibility.”
Mr. Jackson explains that Guidance is involved with parents, and if teachers need help with anything, such as the discipline aspect of teaching, Mr. Jackson, as well as the whole Guidance Family, will always be there to help.
When asked about how he wants his students to remember him when they move on from high school, Mr. Jackson stated, “I just want to make a difference. I want any student that comes in here to walk away going ‘I know without a shadow of a doubt, that Mr. Jackson cared for me,’ That’s how I want to be remembered.”
Mr. Jackson makes a huge difference at Walker Valley, and makes a positive impact on everyone in the Walker Valley Family.