Shay Jackson works as a bookkeeper at Overstreet Elementary School. Jackson started working with the school district as a substitute teacher in 2011 and plans to enter a master’s program at MSU this summer to earn her teaching license. Photo by: Alex Holloway/Dispatch Staff
February 18, 2019 11:57:37 AM
Shay Jackson has shown a willingness to do just about anything in her years with the Starkville School District.
Jackson, who works as Overstreet Elementary School's bookkeeper, started with the district as a substitute teacher for the third, fourth and fifth grade at Henderson Ward Stewart Elementary School in 2011.
"I always wanted to work with kids," she said. "I wanted to be a pediatrician. So I changed my major and graduated from (the Mississippi University for Women). I wanted to be a health educator. So then I decided to start subbing and to work my way up."
A Starkville native and Starkville High School alumna, Jackson was hired as a fifth-grade receptionist about two years later. She kept that job for about two or three years, then transitioned to bookkeeping when the district consolidated with the former Oktibbeha County School District and moved the fifth grade to Overstreet.
As a bookkeeper, she helps oversee the school's finances. The job wasn't one she planned for, but she said it, like any other, is one she takes seriously and puts tremendous effort into.
"It was exciting," she said. "Whatever my job title is, I make sure I do my job very well."
Overstreet Elementary Principal Cynthia Milons said Jackson is a jack-of-all-trades.
"If my counselor is out, she's my counselor," she said. "She really is my go-to person. She's very knowledgeable. She's kind. The kids love her. My teachers and staff -- everybody loves Ms. Jackson because she is a very positive person."
Asylee Gardner, a guidance counselor at Overstreet, said she's always felt Jackson could do well in education since the first time they met in 2013.
"The first time I saw her I was very impressed with her," Gardner said. "It's just the way she presents herself -- she's always professional. I just saw a lot of potential in her and she really does her job very well. She takes it seriously."
Jackson said she still tries to interact with school kids as much as she can. She said it's her favorite part of the job.
"I still see my first group that I subbed with," she said. "They're actually in the 11th grade right now. It's been amazing to watch them. Some of them still see me and ask, 'Ms. Jackson are you still subbing?'"
Beyond the school, Jackson coaches and umpires softball in the summer.
Throughout it all, Jackson still chases her dream of one day teaching, with daily encouragement from Gardner. This summer, she said, she plans to enter a master's program at Mississippi State University to earn her teaching license -- completing her goal of becoming a health educator.
Milons said she's eager to see where Jackson's teacher career ultimately takes her.
"She has the experience," Milons said. "Once she has the education and documentation to support that, she's going to go far in this district."
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