Program produces its first minority teacher

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Thursday, March 8, 2012
— Daniel Jackson wrestled for University of Minnesota teams that won the Big Ten tournament twice and the national tournament once.

He said his biggest accomplishment, however, was being named a Big Ten Academic All-American.

Jackson went pro Monday as a teacher in the Janesville School District.

He is the first teacher to be hired through a private scholarship fund that seeks to increase the number of minority teachers in the district.

The Janesville Multicultural Teacher Opportunities Scholarship was the brainchild of Sen. Tim Cullen when Cullen served on the Janesville School Board.

Janesville students are increasingly diverse, Cullen noted, but the teaching staff remains overwhelmingly white.

Previous district attempts to recruit teachers from the outside had mixed results, at best. Cullen suggested that the community could produce its own minority teachers. He raised money to provide college scholarships to students who agree to spend at least three years teaching in their hometown, if they are hired.

At the time the scholarship program began in 2008, students of color accounted for 17 percent of the district's students. This year, it's 23 percent, the district reported.

The district employs 13 teachers of color this year, or 1.7 percent of the 763 teachers.

The idea is that hiring teachers who reflect the diversity of the students will benefit all students, providing positive role models.

"Kids can look to Dan as someone who has been successful," said Edison Middle School Principal Jim Lemire.

Jackson is Edison's new teacher for at-risk students.

Jackson's story of being a student-athlete who has returned to his roots also can be an inspiration, Lemire said.

Jackson said his job is to build relationships with students and help them acquire the skills they need for academic success.

The son of a General Motors worker, Jackson grew up in Janesville, graduating from Parker High School in 2003.

After getting his degree at Minnesota, he returned home and began a graduate program at UW-Madison, looking to get into higher-education athletics administration.

At the same time, be began volunteering with the Parker High School wrestling team, where coach Ron Cramer planted a seed, telling him about the scholarship and encouraging him to consider teaching.

Jackson later got a job as a special-education aide at Jefferson Elementary School, and that's where he learned that he loved teaching, he said Wednesday.

Becoming a teacher required more schooling. He used the Janesville Multicultural Teacher Opportunities Scholarship to pay for education courses at Concordia University in Mequon.

He also student-taught at Marshall Middle School and Van Buren Elementary School.


Janesville Multicultural Teacher Opportunities Scholarship offers renewable college scholarships of up to $5,000 per year to Janesville students who identify as African American, Latino, Asian or Native American. The students must agree to obtain a teaching degree and state certification. They must be full-time students and earn a minimum grade point average of 2.75.

Upon graduation, they must apply for a job with the Janesville School District. The district is not obliged to hire them, but those hired must agree to stay with the district for a minimum of three years.

The program relies on donations and uses no tax dollars.

The program is supporting eight students in addition to Daniel Jackson. They are Jared Fox, UW-Milwaukee; Fabiola Fajardo and Melissa Sanchez, UW-Rock County; and Chastity Harden, Anabel Garcia Richter, Jesse Ramirez, Sofia Sanchez and Nicole Washington, all UW-Whitewater. Sofia Sanchez is expected to be the program's next graduate in May. She is majoring in secondary English. Four students are on track to graduate in May 2013.

Community members have made donations of all sizes, but funding is an ongoing concern, according to a news release.

To make tax-deductible donations to the JMTOS program, visit the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin website, cfsw.org. Donations by check may be mailed to JMTOS, c/o Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, 26 S. Jackson St., Janesville, WI 53548. To discuss a donation or get information, contact Sue Conley at (608) 758-0883 or 1-800-995-2379 or sueconley@cfsw.org.

Last updated: 7:59 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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