Recently hired high school principal Robert Jackson said his master’s degree from the United States Sports Academy informed his work as a coach and led to a career in academic administration.

Jackson, who holds a Master of Sports Science degree in Sports Management from the Academy, begins his work at Westwood High School in Blythewood, S.C., on July 1 2020. He previously worked as the principal at Longleaf Middle School, which feeds into Westwood, and also spent time as a head basketball coach and physical education teacher early in his career. After completing his degree in 2003, Jackson soon became the assistant principal at Barnwell (S.C.) High School, then worked as assistant principal for instruction at Dutch Fork High School and principal of Irmo Middle School International Academic Magnet.

“The Academy taught me how to be a better coach and athletic administrator, but it also showed me how to be a better leader,” Jackson said. “I always knew I felt called to be a leader, I just didn’t know at first it would be on the academic side. But the Academy prepared me for that by teaching me more than just the ‘x’s and o’s’ of athletics.

“I think sometimes academic administrators can have a blind spot to athletics. They haven’t worked in athletics, so they don’t necessarily understand how important athletics are to how the school functions. My time spent coaching and working in athletics absolutely prepared me to be a principal. Had the Academy not taught me how sports and administration fit together, I probably would not be where I am today.”

Jackson is part of the Academy’s alumni network of thousands of sport professionals working at every level around the world.

“I still keep in touch with my peers from the Academy to this day,” Jackson said. “I consider it like a brotherhood. When I got this job at Westwood, I almost immediately heard from so many of my friends from my Academy days. We stay in touch, and we have helped each other out over the years.”

Jackson began his educational career in 1993 as a health, physical education and science teacher in Florence School District Three. He holds a Bachelor of Science in physical education from South Carolina State University (SCSU) and an educational specialist degree in Educational Leadership from SCSU. He is pursuing a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership.

“I absolutely love the path I’m on,” Jackson said. “My dream was to be a coach, but I felt lead to serve in some bigger capacity. Ethical leadership is something I am passionate about, so I’m very happy to be able to explore that as a principal.”