By Alberto Gilman
As the days start to count down to the beginning of a new academic year for teachers, parents and students, Dr. Jackielyn Manning Campbell prepares to lead the Newburgh Enlarged City School District as the newly appointed district superintendent.
The school district was assisted in selecting Manning Campbell by Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates [HYA], a national education consultant firm who conducted a national search for the district’s new superintendent over the course of the past few months through various public updates, district research and several candidate interviews.
During a special meeting for the Newburgh Board of Education on May 26, Manning Campbell, joined by her children, her family and other district members, was appointed the new superintendent of the district. She assumed her official superintendent duties on July 1.
“I am looking forward to September and meeting all the students because that’s when the real work begins,” Manning Campbell said. “I’m so proud to lead this district because there are so many great things that are happening here.”
As the largest school district in Orange County, with 14 schools under her leadership, Manning Campbell’s previous work in urban public education, recognizing the Career and Technical Education [CTE] opportunities and overall education programs and highlighting diversity of the overall district community helped her make the decision to come and serve the district.
“With my experience, as an urban suburban educator, it was just the right fit,” Manning Campbell said. “My entire career has really been working in diverse districts. It stuck out to me because of the three different municipalities.”
With 24 years of experience and work as a public educator, Manning Campbell previously worked for 15 years in the Mount Vernon schools and in schools and districts in New York City, White Plains, and New Rochelle. Manning Campbell has also held the roles of substitute teacher, assistant principal or administrator and has also worked with high school students in special act schools, which are institutions for children who are wards of the state and have been incarcerated.
With already a 24 year career, the educational field however was not the first career path Manning Campbell had chosen. Manning Campbell shared that originally, she had pursued a degree in healthcare, mainly on track to become a nurse someday. “Education initially was not my first career choice,” Manning Campbell said.
However, it was on a trip to a special education program with a relative that Manning Campbell’s interest in education sparked as she saw the interactions with students and dedication of the teachers. Manning Campbell is also not the only educator in her family as her mother was a teacher for many years.
Manning Campbell received her bachelor’s degree in Health Services Administration, a master’s degree from Lehman College in Elementary Education, a second master’s degree from Mercy College in Administration and Supervision and doctoral degree in 2012 in Executive Leadership from St. John Fisher College.
Over the course of the past few weeks, Manning Campbell hosted a discussion forum, Morning Chat with Jackie, as a means to learn more about the community and collaborate with stakeholders for the success and betterment of the students. The sessions were set to end August 4.
“The chats have really been informative for me as a new person coming in because I’m listening and I’m really learning a lot about the district. If I can highlight anything at all, it’s really been the transparency and the honesty and the hope for change that’s really been the central theme with everyone that I’ve spoken to,” Manning Campbell said.
Members of the Newburgh Parent Alliance have also appeared before Manning Campbell and the board of education to express their concerns and frustrations on school policy, school safety and providing safe spaces for students that do not condone racially insensitive rhetoric and actions. Other stakeholders have also been critical and concerned about the types of programming or services that have not met their and their child’s expectations when discussing education.
Manning Campbell shares to those critical of her and the district that the focus is on the students and through a collaborative effort, change is possible. “We all want to see our students excel, we all want to see positive representations in the city, in the three municipalities that feed into the district. This is about education, about learning and building our city and moving forward. We’re not going to continue and consistently look in the rearview mirror. This is future thinking, future forward work,” Manning Campbell said. “Education makes the impossible possible. When we educate a child, we’ve changed a generation. Losing children or giving up on children is not an option.”
Addressing school safety, Manning Campbell shared that she has had the opportunity to meet with local law enforcement members along with members of the Orange County District Attorney and Sheriff’s Office and the New York State Troopers office.
In the coming weeks, Manning Campbell will be working with teachers on professional development, offering more support for parents and students and still learning more about the district.
“I think it’s important for parents, families and students to know that we [NECSD] are preparing for September 22 and beyond,” Manning Campbell said. “Really focusing on engaging students and families, ensuring that there are safe spaces for scholars, ensuring that we are extending learning opportunities, that we’re being collaborative with families and parents and staff members to move the district forward.”