An experienced writer and editor, Teresa Jackson has had no trouble jumping right into the flow of news in the community, as the Madras Pioneer's new news editor.
Jackson, who has lived in Madras for the past eight years, is currently working part time, but will take on the role full time in December. For this week's paper, she delved into an issue facing local attorneys, and wrote about a new Madras city councilor; she relishes the process of learning about the community and then telling its stories.
"I'm interested in all kinds of stories, but I especially love stories that make a difference in the community," said Jackson, who has worked as a journalist for both weekly and daily papers. "Some of my favorites were about suicide prevention and nocturnal home hemodialysis, of all things. And morbid as it may sound, I always feel so honored when a family shares a story of someone who has died. Getting to write about the life of someone who has lived well is a privilege, though a bittersweet one."
Prior to moving to Madras, Jackson lived in more than a dozen places — from her birthplace of Caldwell, Idaho, to Washington and then to Oregon.
"After moving around a lot, I lived in Toppenish, Washington, which is on the Yakama reservation, from second to seventh grade," she said. "The community is a bit like Madras, and I loved it there."
Middle school and high school were spent in Bandon, on the Southern Oregon Coast, where she first experienced journalism. "One of my English teachers said, 'You like to write. You need to take journalism. It's boring, but you can always get a job,'" said Jackson. "I didn't even know what journalism was, but I signed up and found myself working on the school paper ... We only produced two papers the whole year, as I recall, but I didn't think it was boring; I really enjoyed it."
Following graduation, Jackson attended what is now Northwest Christian University, in Eugene, where she graduated in 1995, with a Bachelor of Arts in Intercultural Studies, and a minor in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.
From there, Jackson, a pastor's daughter, began studying Christian doctrine at Emmanuel School of Religion, in Johnson City, Tennessee, but only one semester into her studies, she received a job offer she couldn't refuse. Her former academic dean at Northwest Christian, who was Korean, called and told her that he had a contact in Korea who was looking for someone to teach English to university students.
Jackson accepted the job, quit school and left for Korea. "I planned to stay for a year, but I stayed for three," she said, noting that in addition to teaching university students, she also taught English to public officials and school teachers in a "small town" of about 300,000 people.
Over the course of the three years, from 1996-1999, she learned to speak and read a little Korean. "I know enough to get around but not to talk about anything important," she explained. "People always wanted to speak English with me. I felt particularly satisfied when I was able to negotiate having a washing machine delivered to my apartment without help."
Upon her return to the U.S., Jackson was hired to teach English, social studies and other subjects at Fairview Christian School in Albany. Although she loved working with the students, she didn't enjoy classroom management, "and that sometimes got in the way of the teaching."
In 2002, she applied for a position at the Stayton Mail, a weekly newspaper in Stayton. "I had experience editing lots of documents in Korea, and I'd taught English, but I had no reporting experience," she said.
The editor sent her out on a trial story and ended up hiring her. "I stayed for three years, from 2002-2005; it was one of my favorite jobs ever," said Jackson.
Next, she was hired by the News-Review in Roseburg, as the education reporter. "That was a particularly interesting beat because in the summer, I could write about pretty much anything I wanted to," she recalled. "One of the highlights was spending a week with veterinary interns from all over the world at Wildlife Safari."
In 2008, she moved to the copy desk, where she learned to edit stories, design pages, write editorials, and serve as web editor.
But then, the recession hit. "Like a lot of newspapers, Roseburg was forced to cut hours and was talking about downsizing in 2009. I put my resume on a journalism site and started looking for work, since I didn't have anything tying me to the community and I knew many of my colleagues did," said Jackson. "I got a call from one of the editors at the Tri-City Herald in Kennewick, Washington, inviting me to apply for a copy editor and page designer position there." She applied and was hired.
However, before she moved to the Tri-Cities, she had met and become good friends with her future husband, Andrew Jackson, while both sang in a church choir in Roseburg. Shortly after she moved to Richland, Washington, he moved to Eastern Oregon, and they ended up getting married.
When he was hired to teach in the Jefferson County School District, the two moved to Madras. Currently, he teaches seventh and eighth grade science at Warm Springs K-8 Academy, and they have two children who are 7 and 8.
In Madras, Jackson has worked as secretary at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd and St. Mark's Episcopal Church, and for Habitat for Humanity, and worked as a freelance writer and editor, "before we brought children into our lives."
While she found it rewarding to be able to stay home with the children, now that they are in school, she jumped at the chance to work for the Pioneer.
"I love community journalism, and I'm excited to be doing it again," she said. "I also love Jefferson County and can't wait to tell its stories."
Jackson, who is active in her church and loves music, singing and playing the flute, also confesses to an unusual obsession.
"Andrew and I are a bit obsessed with board games, so much so that I used to review them and I gave feedback to other designers on their rulebooks," she said. "We both make games, and we have one that's based on Jane Austen's novels that took third in a national design contest. We're still working out the kinks but hope to have it published."
One of the other things I do for fun is watch Korean TV shows on Netflix.
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