Women of Influence: State Board of Education member Jackie Zeigler

Jackie Zeigler

Jackie Zeigler has been a loyal servant of the public education system and the state of Alabama for over three decades.

Born in Cleveland she moved to Mobile, Ala. and earned her Bachelors of Science and Master of Arts degrees in elementary education from the University of South Alabama in 1985, and went on to obtain an Administration and Supervision certificate from the same school.

Jackie then began what would become a long and prominent career in the Mobile County School system as a school teacher at Dauphin Island’s Little Red School House in 1980 and later served as acting principal there.

Zeigler then moved to Maryvale Elementary School in 1986 where she was a classroom teacher and Title One Coordinator. She then became Assistant Principal at O’Rourke Elementary School in the summer of 1996, and was also an adjunct professor of education at Springhill College where she taught curriculum.

Jackie spent the next 14 years of her career as the principal at Mary B. Austin Elementary, during which time the school earned the National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, before she finally retired.

In 2016, Zeigler ran for the State Board of Education, District 1, against incumbent Matthew Brown who had been appointed to the position by former governor Robert Bentley, despite the fact he had very little experience in the education.

Jackie Zeigler, new state school board member for District One, listens to member Dr. Cynthia McCarty in Montgomery work session. [Photo via Jackie Zeigler for State School Board Facebook page]

Needless to say Zeigler’s 37 years of experience in education spoke for itself. She was sworn in on Jan. 24, 2017.

“My hands-on experiences within the school setting that incorporated all the intricacies of curriculum, management, financial accountability, communication with all stakeholders (students, faculty and staff, parents, community) along with a myriad of other daily, fluid responsibilities cements my ability to bring a working knowledge to the SBOE table.”

“I am a firm believer, and my open door policy during my school experience authenticated this belief, of maintaining lines of communication that are a two way street with the vital component of listening as the main focus. Listening is the most important aspect in any communication along with keeping an open mind to be a life long learner,” Zeigler told Alabama School Connection.

Jackie and Jim Zeigler
Jackie and Jim Zeigler

If the name Zeigler sound familiar, thats because she’s married to Alabama’s current State Auditor Jim Zeigler.

They have two children, James Baldwin, a graduate of Baker High School, and Mary Magdalene, a senior at Baker High School.

Zeigler is a knowledgable woman, with many years of experience in the professional world, and was kind enough to answer some of Alabama Today’s questions about her life, work and influences:

How have other women influenced your success?

My mother was an excellent role model who showed me that hard work, determination, strong morals and work ethic along with a vision and focus would allow one to make a success in home life and career.

My principal mentor who guided me by allowing hands-on experience in leadership roles. She challenged me to think outside the box and gave me opportunities to make a true difference in the lives of students. Her trust in me and my capabilities gave forth to a career that lasted 38 years resulting in a National Blue Ribbon award.

Other educators with whom I came in to daily contact were my support team as well as my biggest critics. I quickly learned that everything one does in the school setting must have a positive impact on the students. Take “me” out of any equation or scenario. If what I am determined to do doesn’t have the best interests of the students first and foremost, then step back and punt.

Your primary career is as an educator, what piqued your interest in public education?

I knew I would be an educator beginning in the third grade. I was blessed to have various educational experiences because my family moved all across our great nation on an average of every 3 years. Private schooling, parochial schooling and public schooling, beginning in k’g through twelfth grade, afforded me the working knowledge of how various school settings work. It cemented my resolve in high school that education was my career of choice and I never looked back.

What advice would you give young women considering careers in education?

Go for it! My experience as a classroom teacher, Title I facilitator, assistant principal, principal and adjunct college professor all gave me the richest of rewards by working daily with students and other educators. I would challenge one to apply for and accept those situations that are beyond the norm. Utilizing all of one’s talents and abilities in settings that appear the most difficult end up being those of greatest return. Continue to grow through readings, seminars, lectures…never rest on your laurels because the impact you may have on student lives are worth every effort you impart.

For her 37 years of service to the Mobile County School systems, and her willingness to continue to serve her community and state throughout her retirement, Jackie Zeigler is clearly an Alabama woman of influence.