STERLING – If you’ve been to a Sterling High School sporting event in recent years, there’s a decent chance you’ve seen Taylor Jackson.
Whether she’s on the sideline at Musgrove Fieldhouse coaching the girls varsity basketball team, in the stands at a volleyball game or boys basketball game, or volunteering to work the local track meets, Jackson is constantly connected to the kids in her community – and making a difference in young people’s lives.
The seeds for Jackson’s love of teaching, coaching and working with kids were planted more than two decades ago, when she was a student in the Sterling school system.
That upbringing inspired her to pursue careers in teaching and coaching – two passions she says developed around the same time.
“I feel like I had some really great teachers when I was growing up. I went to Sterling [High School], I went to Sterling schools, and I feel like a lot of them inspired me to want to do that for a future career,” Jackson said.
“A lot of my favorite teachers were also coaches, and I saw that the connection that you have with the students outside of the classroom is also really, really meaningful. So that was probably what motivated me to want to do both of those things, and also what got me back into coaching a little bit later on, is being able to have that relationship with those girls and motivate them for future success.”
From the time she earned her degree at Illinois State University, Jackson planned to return home.
After finishing her student teaching down near ISU, the career opportunity she had been waiting for presented itself: teaching at her alma mater.
Sixteen years later, Taylor is still teaching at Sterling High School, along with her husband, Mark – and giving back to the community that helped make her who she is today.
“I went to ISU, I was on the track team there, and I knew that I wanted to go into education,” Jackson said. “I really had a passion for history and American history and things like that, so I was able to graduate from there, do my student teaching down there, and then there was an opening up here, so I was able to come up here and start teaching 16 years ago. And my husband teaches math here as well, so we’ve been up here ever since.”
When Jackson isn’t teaching AP U.S. History, U.S. History and AP Psychology, coaching girls basketball, or spending time with her family, she devotes time to athletic committees and school clubs. She’s also worked with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Like many teachers, Jackson enjoys the interactions and relationships she has with her students more than anything else. The variety and challenge each school day brings only adds to the fun of her job.
“It has to be the students. They keep this job very, very interesting,” Jackson said. “It is different from day to day, and they make it really enjoyable and really fun, and they challenge me to be better everyday.”