La Grande Middle School is losing an assistant principal whose well of optimism for his students never runs dry.
Brett Jackman, LMS’s full-time assistant principal since 2007, will step down at the end of June to become the new principal of Nyssa High School.
“It is a great opportunity, but I have mixed emotions about leaving. There are so many incredible people at this school and in the community,” said Jackman, who grew up in La Grande.
Jackman said he has loved his job at LMS and the 13 years have passed quickly.
“It has flown by,” he said.
Jackman attributes this to how much he enjoys his job and its often electric pace.
“It has been crazy hectic (at times),” the educator said.
Jackman’s focus has long been on redirecting students going in the wrong direction.
“He is student centered and always looking for kids (who have issues) to change. Brett is always optimistic,” said LMS Principal Kyle McKinney.
Jackman is praised by many at LMS as someone who reaches out in a compassionate manner to students.
“He leads with a kind, constant heart. He likes to give students second chances,” said social studies teacher Anne Marie Fritz.
McKinney echoed this sentiment.
“He will do anything for students, parents and staff, almost to a fault,” the LMS principal said.
Klel Carson, who teaches social studies at LMS, agreed.
“Brett is a very giving, kindhearted person. He really cares and will be missed,” Carson said.
Jackman is also respected for his calm, friendly demeanor, which has helped him resolve more than one conflict at LMS.
Mike Hayden of Cove, who retired last year after serving as LMS’s head custodian for nine years, said his personality has served Jackman well at LMS. Hayden noted that if two students were involved in a dispute, Jackman was able to resolve the situation quickly and in a friendly manner.
“He can get to the bottom of why they are upset,” Hayden said.
Regardless of how a student has behaved, Jackman strives to have a short memory.
“Everyday is a fresh start,” Jackman said.
He is patient with students in part because he understands that the middle school years are difficult, a time when students are transitioning from children to young adults.
His patience is coupled with the goal of helping students see the importance of good decision making and the fallout that can result from poor choices.
“You can control the choices you make, not the consequences of your
actions,” Jackman said.
The educator took the position in Nyssa because it will fulfill his lifelong goal of becoming a school principal and he will be closer to his wife, who lives in the Boise area. They were married in September.
“This will give us a chance to see each other more,” said Jackman.
At Nyssa High School, Jackman will be aided by his ability to speak Spanish. Jackman, who earlier taught Spanish at La Grande High School for five years, noted that about 80 percent of the families at Nyssa are of Hispanic descent.
“(My ability to speak Spanish) will help me the most with communicating with parents,” Jackman said.
The educator said many positive strides have been made at LMS and in the school district over the past 13 years. These include the creation of the school district’s Professional Learning Communities program. Through the program teachers work together intensely to develop individualized education programs for students.
“The PLC program has made a tremendous difference,” Jackman said. “It changed the way we do business at the middle school.”
Jackman is excited about the chance to apply the many things he has learned as an educator at Nyssa High School.
“It will be a new adventure. I am super excited and I want to make a difference,” he said.
He will be succeeded at LMS by Chris Wagner, who is now a half-time assistant principal at both LMS and Central Elementary School.
“Chris will do a wonderful job. He has so much energy,” Jackman said.