Meet Donita Jackson

Donita Jackson
School and College Counselor
Indian Hill High School (OH)

What made you decide to get into this field?
I’ve always wanted to be an educator. Coming from a line of educators, I never have really imagined myself doing anything other than teaching, learning, and being with other people. I started my career as a middle school health teacher. Health was the one subject that I knew had some application to everyone’s life. Later, I decided to go back to school and was drawn to school counseling.

What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is being with the students. While they are in our lives for short time --with the exception of those that we retain contact with after graduation -- working out some of their milestones in high school is ephemeral. Helping them to navigate their stressful situations (“What classes to take? Where are my best options for college? How to work with teachers? To How can I get my parents to understand me?”) is fulfilling and seeing them go through the process and arrive at solutions is rewarding.

Why did you attend Guiding the Way to Inclusion last year and what do you think you gained from the experience?
In Ohio, we have a GWI in concert with the annual Ohio ACAC conference. I was serving as a co-chair for OACAC’s GWI and we wanted the opportunity to see how the national conference was conducted with the hope of implementing some of the strategies and/or sessions in our state conference. One of my major take-aways from GWI was the mentor groups. We LOVED that concept. I felt like my mentor group was the gel that held my entire conference experience together. It actually felt like we were a small family unit with varied experiences as we completed the last session. Our facilitator was amazing. He contacted us a few weeks after the conference. It was a beautiful experience to see so many individuals who have a passion for helping students gain access to higher education.

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
When I became a high school counselor, colleagues in my office were members in OACAC. Involvement in these organizations (both national and state) have definitely helped me meet college admission counselors. I believe that the connection we have is most certainly beneficial for our students. In addition to the relationships, the resources that NACAC provides have helped us to be accurate and not reinvent the wheel for some of our student/family presentations.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I love to move! I’m a former Zumba instructor and it was the perfect combination of working out and dancing. From family vacations to chilling at home, I enjoy hanging out with my “boys,” a.k.a. my husband and our two sons. My sons are a soon-to-be college sophomore and a high school sophomore, so there is still something magical about us all being in the same space. I love the people that they are constantly evolving into.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
So the first thing that comes to mind is Sally Walker. As a child we played the game, “Little Sally Walker was walking down the street, she didn’t know what to do so, she jumped in front of me. She said, Go’on girl shake that thing, shake that thing to me…”

I would be Sally and get in front of people, dance, encourage them to experience freedom in movement, and spend some time in JOY and laughter. Life brings so many experiences. It is always appropriate to focus on some of the positive moments and smile.

Describe yourself in five words.
Learner, listener, caring, encouraging, and fun-loving.

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