Faculty remember John Jackson


Hannah Kopek, Sports Editor

John Jackson, former history teacher, passed away over the summer, after a tough battle with brain cancer. Those who knew Jackson say he had what was perceived as a hard-outer shell, when in reality he was quite the opposite.

“He had a nun character he would do,” John Smith, government teacher, said. “For somebody who was perceived to be a big tough guy, to have these goofy characters and to always act so goofy would be something people might not have known about him.”

He also displayed Christmas spirit, dressing up as Santa at the last home basketball game before winter break. The elf was Patrick Hanley, history teacher.

“It was one of his favorite days of the year,” Hanley said. “The fact that he asked me to be his elf for the past 5-6 years was something special.”

His spirit stemmed from home where he decorated his house inside and out.

“At his house he had a million lights, he was kind of like a Clark W. Griswold kind of man for Christmas,” Dave Stephens, principal, said.

In addition to impacting students, Jackson left his mark on the staff.

“Mr. Jackson had a big personality but also one of the best personalities. He is one of those people that you are so happy you got to know because they leave such a lasting impact,” Katie Jeray, history teacher, said.

Jackson also had a way with words.

“When I first got hired here in 2005, I was in the coaches’ office and he looked at me, ‘Hey Steve! So glad we hired you,” Steve Lamberti, humanities department chair, said. “Those kind words, making me feel good about myself as a new member of this school community, is something I will never forget.”

He didn’t just welcome new staff, but he offered them meaningful words of advice.

“When I was a student here, I never had Mr. Jackson as a teacher,” Darren Kobliska, history teacher, said. “But when I started out as a teacher he told me, ‘If you do what’s right for students, you’re going to be okay.’ I’ve always remembered that.”

Jackson tended to put his students and players before himself. According to Hanley, he kept mementos of his students’ and players’ achievements at home, but none of his own.

“He always took ownership of his student athletes,” Mark Krusz, athletic director, said. “He would always say, ‘My boys. My kids’. If you were on that football team, you were a part of Coach Jackson’s family.”

His ownership is what fueled his energy for coaching and teaching.

“He lived with such an incredible amount of passion,” Jon Pereiro, football coach and psychology teacher, said. “He cared a great deal about every one of his students and every one of his players. I look to him to put that into my daily life.”

The way Jackson lived continues to influence the way his peers live, and they feel better off for having known him.

“Throughout all of the years I had gotten to know him, I consider myself blessed,” Robert Keane, teacher, said. Even now in his classroom, Keane has Jackson’s John Wayne poster still framed and hanging on the wall as a nod to him and the fact that John Jackson will never be forgotten.