I remember vividly one of the first conversations I had with Dr. Carolyn Jackson-King.

I had just begun volunteering a few months earlier at a local elementary school in my neighborhood. I was "fresh-out-of-college" age. I was full of dreams and goals, and a desire to better the lives of young folk who looked like me.

Before I knew it, my days were filled with getting to know children and assisting staff. Covering recess duty, and the occasional class. Making copies and running errands, standing in awe of this amazing collective of people who jointly redefined the impossible, a day at a time.

Remembering Jeremiah's favorite dish was orange chicken with broccoli.

Remembering to rub the price tag off of my thrifted shoes, in order to avoid embarrassing moments like deciphering how Alexis could possibly know I paid $7.99 for those chocolate brown Sperrys, a fact she proclaimed loudly during my first read-aloud.

Remembering to always earn the right to be heard; to be consistent.

Remembering to not get distracted by the massive cemetery across the street from the hallway that led to the music room.

One particular day, I had just spent a class period with children who were throwing books at each other across a beautiful library space. Playing hide and seek with the librarian. Play-fighting... real fighting. 

My inner child was aghast. Adult me had yet to learn about tiered intervention supports, maintaining a calm measured tone.

While I was sweating from the effort of mindfully processing it all while dodging books, Dr. Jackson-King came into the room and the entire thing was resolved within moments.

So I'm talking to Dr. Jackson-King in her office, afterwards, and I remember us having a conversation about my dreams, my goals, what I saw for myself. The reasons why I was volunteering these few days a week. I remember being struck by her sincere desire to see everyone's best self. How completely at ease she was with having candid conversations. How unique her leadership style was, and still is. How staff she curates are oriented, empowered, and positioned to meet the needs of each child. 

My how frequently she has rallied in the face of every crisis in the weeks, months, years since.

Dr. Jackson-King builds teams of talented people and systems are definitively better with her leadership in the mix.

All of this context to say... 

I recently had the pleasure of photographing a luncheon held in her honor. Here are some of the images I made that day.

Typical Dr. Jackson-King--  standing in her power, always giving back to those around her, and creating opportunities for fellowship, communion, reflection.


In Spanish, there's a word that I haven't quite figured out how to express in English (with accompanying sentiment intact). I set it off in bold below so you can have fun researching on the internets if you feel so inspired.

Ojala que Dios le da recompensa por la vida suya, toda lo que la Dra. añade a nuestras vidas. Cada cosa que ha sacrificado. Every relationship that she has fostered/curated/cultivated. For every mediation conducted and teachable moment explored. For years of laughter, and experiencing the collective joy and pain of collectively serving the good.
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