Jackson named new principal of West Orange’s Redwood School

Kimya Jackson

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Kimya Jackson has been named the new principal of Redwood Elementary School in West Orange. 

When asked why she entered the education field, Jackson said, “Education chose me. I initially began my studies in physical therapy. However, having my son changed my life and professional path. I volunteered at his daycare center and was told I was a natural. I began taking classes in early childhood education and found I truly enjoyed them. The classes guided my parenting and path to teaching.” 

Jackson has been part of the Redwood staff since 2004, working as a second-grade teacher until 2019 when she received her appointment to assistant principal at Redwood and Washington Elementary School in 2020. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in teacher education and teacher development at Montclair State University. 

“I enjoyed so many things about working in the classroom,” Jackson said. “At Redwood, I truly loved the diversity from the cultures to content knowledge. My students have taught me languages, perspectives, cultures, and, most of all, patience and understanding.” 

Jackson decided to move into administration to do more for the students. 

“I moved into administration to have a greater impact on the lives of my students. As an administrator I have the opportunity to guide my students beyond one grade,” she said. “For instance, during COVID my past students have emailed me their work and have asked for my opinion and input. As a second-grade teacher, my students would stop by to visit but they never asked for academic guidance. As an administrator it feels as if they trust that I am knowledgeable beyond second grade.” 

Jackson has both long- and short-term goals for Redwood. 

“My short-term goal is to safely close the school year to begin planning for September. My long-term goal is to continue to cultivate an inclusive and inviting environment where all stakeholders succeed academically, socially and emotionally,” she said. 

As public schools move out of hybrid and cohort models and back into a full-day schedule, Jackson sees elementary education as being in a continued progressive overhaul.

“Just last year before the pandemic, we saw technology being used on various occasions. Young children were barely able to stroke the keys on keyboards to create words or sentences within a class period. Now, technology has become second nature not only to the students but teachers as well,” Jackson said. “I see us staying on a progressive path where hybrid becomes the norm, and possibly used as a method to address the social needs of the students. I would like to see us poll students and hear student voices as it pertains to our current learning environment, then use their voice to lead reopening in September.” 

For many years Redwood’s motto was “The School With Heart.” Jackson and former Principal Timothy Beaumont developed a new motto, “The School That Cares.” Jackson’s vision for the school is that and more. 

“My vision for Redwood is to continue to build an inclusive community where all stakeholders feel and know they matter,” she said.