Meet Jackson Neal

Jackson Neal. Photo by Daniel Schaefer, Outlier Photography.

By Joan Frances –

Seniors at Austin High School have experienced four years of education and life experiences. One senior who has accomplished significant successes and has an insightful view of life and his goals for the future is Jackson Neal.

Jackson is a leader, and he is engaged in substantial organizations at Austin High School. Namely, he is head drum major for the school’s marching band and is one of three co-chairs for Spectrum, an on campus club dedicated to supporting LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning) and ally students. He is also the Space City Grand Slam Champion of Metafour Houston, the fifth best youth poetry slam team in the world.

In all of these organizations, Jackson’s leadership style is consistent in its approach.  “I ensure that my teams always have a deeply personal motivation that will inspire them to persevere through challenges that may present themselves,” shared Jackson.  “For me, that motivation is creating a positive impact in the lives of those around me in the same way that mine was impacted. I’ve been known to lead aggressively, and I often push those around me past their comfort zones, but I firmly believe that hard work and persistence are the biggest determinants of our successes. When I see a younger musician, poet or club member pushing themselves to succeed, I know that what I do is helping the future of those around me, and nothing could ever be more valuable.”

Jackson is the 2017 Space City Grand Slam Champion winner of the largest youth poetry slam in Texas, and he is also a National Young Arts Finalist in Poetry.

Photo by Shaelyn Neal Photography.

Jackson’s favorite teachers are Janis Bellon and Erin North. “These two English teachers have the literary and pedagogical prowess to put the entire cast of Dead Poets Society to shame,” said Jackson. “Both inside and outside the classroom, these teachers have given me the guidance and encouragement to pursue my dreams as a writer and leader. I have stopped by both of their rooms on plenty of occasions with a poem to edit, or an essay to review, or maybe just some gossip I thought they really ought to hear, and they’ve always made me feel at home. ‘Teacher’ is only one of the many titles these women hold; they are also healers, caretakers and home builders.”

Jackson’s strong values are admirable.  “I consider myself a gritty person. Persistence in the face of adversity is, I believe, one of the most important qualities a person can have. Hardship is inevitable, and I’ve certainly met plenty, but we become stronger when we dare to break past our obstacles, difficult as they may be. I make it a point to push my limits whenever possible. I truly believe that the world of possibilities lies beyond our comfort zones.”

High school is where Jackson first learned to perform. “One of the largest audiences I’ve ever been in front of was a packed stadium at the UIL state marching contest. One of the first times I ever competed in a poetry slam was in a competition for school. Fort Bend ISD has given me the opportunities to perform my work in front of their entire staff of over 11,000 employees, for students all over the district at their annual diversity conference, and even for the State of the Schools Address. For that I am forever grateful.”

Jackson aspires to attend Emerson University and to double major in Creative Writing with a focus in poetry and Arts Administration. Thank you, Jackson, for your undeniable commitment and wisdom beyond your years. We look forward to watching you make an impact in this world in your future.