Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire

By Kelsey Butler ’13 ’14
Published Thursday, Jan.30, 2014

Reggie Jackson ’05 had always thought he wanted a corner office at some big company like MTV, ESPN, or WWE, but once he got to Lynn he realized he needed to follow his heart and not his head. His head was telling him to major in business, but his heart was in criminal justice. 

Following graduation in 2005, Reggie became a juvenile probation officer for the Department of Juvenile Justice and was given a caseload of only known gang members. His specialty quickly led him into the Department of Corrections as a Senior Correctional Probation Officer as a gang specialist and team member of the US Marshall’s Gang Task Force in Miami. 

A probation officer is not a job for the faint at heart; Miami is a rough city and the criminals are no different. He experienced everything from being cursed out to being threatened with weapons pointed at him. However, one of his favorite things to do was to visit underneath the Julia Tuttle Causeway late at night where the registered sex offenders lived because they could not live within 1000 feet of any place that children gathered. This was very difficult in a dense city like Miami, so this is where they the sex offenders gathered and lived. He never ceased to be amazed by the city they had built out of tents, boxes, and anything else they could find. They had working TV’s, video games, burning stoves, and on top of it they had one of the most beautiful views of Biscayne Bay that most people would pay millions for.

Reggie swore he would never be a teacher after he watched what his mother – an elementary school teacher – was put through by her students. However, Reggie decided he wanted to start a family and everything changed. Reggie could no longer continually place his life in danger.

It was time for Reggie to change careers, so he started teaching criminal justice at Law Enforcement Memorial High School, a magnet school for students wishing to pursue a career in law enforcement, law, and forensic science. Reggie has since moved to Miami Carol City Senior High School where he continues to teach criminal justice and was just voted Rookie Teacher of the Year. Reggie was also just voted Co-Chairman of the Florida Public Service Association and remains on the US Marshall’s Gang Task Force.

Reggie mentioned that he got his inspiration to teach from three of our very own professors, Dr. Joseph Hall, Dr. Karen Casey, and Dr. Sindee Kerker. Reggie continues to stay connected to Lynn by inspiring a few of his own students to follow in his footsteps and enroll at Lynn. He says, “It is a huge compliment to have someone follow in your footsteps,” just as he followed in the footsteps of his Lynn professors. He thought Lynn had filled his pail with knowledge, but what it really helped him do was light the fire and discover his passion for teaching. Reggie will be forever grateful to Lynn University and its amazing staff.

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