Old Man Jackson: The One-Eighty

Young eighteen-year-old Christopher Andres Jackson gained a full scholarship to the University of Iowa for football, however, his career ended when he tore his ACL, putting him on a dark path.

Old Man Jackson, English 12 & College Writing teacher, is known for his excitement to teach and his loud roars during Community Dialogue. His willingness to teach and pass down lessons is like no other. After graduating from his course, students often remember Jackson for his abstract analogies and lessons he teaches in class. 

“What makes Mr. Jackson stand out is how motivating he is and how he always wants us to express ourselves through any means,” said Christine Hong, a former student of Jackson when he taught English 9. “He has a wise outlook on life, and if I need any advice, I know that he’s the first person I think of.”

Jackson leaves a great impact and passes on knowledge to his students. They always have a positive thought when they hear Jackson’s name.  

He wasn’t always with this knowledge. Jackson had a long journey that was nowhere near linear. He was presented with a great opportunity to play football in college and to get his education. At that moment, he had his eyes on football and nothing else. He had his heart and eyes set on going to the NFL. His body endured immense pain throughout this journey. However, it was only the beginning of his long, bumpy story. 

“Tearing my ACL right there started it all.  As I mentioned before, I was very consumed by football, as if football was life,” explained Jackson. “I was very blessed to have torn my ACL. It ended my career after college.”

Back then, Jackson didn’t see it as a blessing. He got lost in a dark place. He was at the Hell South Hospital, where many professional athletes went when they themselves were injured. He was in the hospital by himself and it was his first time not playing football. He wrote morbid pieces of poetry in his journal as he was sitting by himself. He felt as if he had no purpose in life and only death was an option. He lost a total of 40 pounds in that hospital bed. He had hit rock bottom and didn’t know what to do next.  

The moment Jackson started to turn his life around was when he got his graduating letter to teach. He didn’t want to teach, however, he was told all his entire life that he would make a great teacher. Just the idea of teachers disgusted him, especially being one. 

“My former girlfriend kept bugging me, saying that I needed to apply to graduate school because she thought I would make a great teacher, ” Jackson said, laughing. 

The idea of finding purpose and knowing what to do took Jackson years to figure out. For a while, he was a football coach at a private school. He couldn’t stop living in the world of football. 

“My purpose was to actually teach from all the mistakes that I had made too. I saw [young men and women] headed toward some of the same mistakes that I made,” emphasized Jackson. “I saw that they had the same dreams that I had. I was fortunate enough to understand how they felt or knew what they needed to do and so I helped them.”

Jackson said that he has surrendered to the Lord and found his purpose. It was the start of his one-eighty. It was the start of Old Man Jackson and his purpose to educate and bear his fruit to others, specifically young people. 

“Christianity made me die to myself, meaning that I had to realize that I don’t do things for men and things aren’t given to me because of what I do. Most importantly, I don’t belong to myself. A lot of things that I did, I always thought that, ‘ Oh I just it doesn’t hurt anybody else, it’s only me and I’m my God’,” said Jackson. “That’s crazy and slowly things were taken away from me that were a gift. I solely made myself surrender and realized that all the talents [and] gifts that I was given , they aren’t for me to consume. They’re for me to give and so that goes back to the fruit.” 

According to Jackson, the idea of bearing fruit comes from the Holy Bible. Fruit is love and is what you can give. It is something that is for others, not yourself. One’s talents are used to better one not for you to gain glory. 

“Love is fruitful, to bear fruit you must give love. To understand what is to bear fruit, I must tell you the opposite. The opposite means, the Evil One loves to rob, steal and kill right? That’s everything that is opposed to God,” Jackson said. 

Jackson repeats that bearing fruit comes from the Bible, with various lessons and commandments, they all come back to two main messages. One is bearing fruit to others in His name. Jackson teaches this lesson, of giving back to others by using your gifts to give back. He has beared his fruit to his students by continuing to pass his knowledge, advice, and gifts to his students. 

A former student and current track athlete under Jackson’s coaching, junior Kimberly Lee, praised Jackson by saying, “What makes him stand out from other teachers is he brings out your potential. Even if you are struggling or doing well he will always check up on you and your progress regarding a current project or anything else. He will always notice the little details such as if you’re putting time, effort, and passion into a project or any assignment.” 

There have been many similar testimonies and compliments when students talk about the devoted teacher. Jackson is a blessing to the DVC community with his wisdom, humor, care, and overall love for the DVC community. 

“You can bear fruit by realizing what are your God-given strengths, and how you can use those strengths to support others where they may have a weakness,” Jackson encourages.