Isle of Wight students protest former art teacher’s termination


ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) – An Isle of Wight county art teacher is out of a job.

This comes just hours after a dozen of her students fought for her to keep her position.

When former Smithfield High School art teacher Jessica Jackman tweeted, “with changes comes growing pains, I won’t be coming back, due to unforeseen circumstances,” it sent shock waves through her students’ lives.

“I teared up a little bit actually. I was at work when I found out, so it made my day a lot worse,” said senior Mackenzie Jackson.

Students immediately rallied to fight the change and make their voices heard, especially after a mural done in Jackman’s class was painted over.

Those students protested Wednesday in front of the Isle of Wight public school central office, while Jackman attended a hearing with the school board.

“To just be heard about what we want because we feel as though we have been ignored and to show our old art teacher some support,” said senior Erin O’Donnell.

The school administration wouldn’t comment, stating it was a personnel issue.

But sources tell 10 On Your Side the board felt a relationship with two female students was more friend than teacher.

“From what some are saying texts with some students in her class, and one of those students is my daughter,” said Jennifer Molesworth, who says her daughter was texting with Jackman.

Jennifer Molesworth says she was fully aware of the texts between Jackman and her daughter and was OK with it and never saw anything inappropriate.

“If they felt ostracized or uncomfortable in any situation, Ms. Jackman opened her arms, opened her door to these kids. It was a place to go. And it was taken away,” said Molesworth

School officials never commented on why the mural was taken down.

10 On Your Side spoke with Jackman, who asked to stay off camera and thanked her community and students because their support reminded her to always stand up for what you believe in, even if it is hard.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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