Photos courtesy of Harborfields Central School District
Prior to charming an audience of adoring fans at his Aug. 6 concert at UBS Arena, Barry Manilow sang one special music teacher’s praises. In a private meet-and-greet, the legendary singer-songwriter presented the Manilow Music Award to Harborfields High School Choir Director Clare Jackson.
Jackson, a 20-year veteran educator who directs the Harborfields High School Choir and Vocal Ensemble, teaches beginning guitar and music theory courses, and previously taught general music and/or choir in all three of the district’s other buildings, received an anonymous nomination for the award and was later voted the winner.
“When I received the email that I was one of only 10 teachers nominated in the greater New York area, I was in complete shock,” she said. “I was honored already at that point, and truly thought there was no way I would be chosen.”
The award, which includes a $5,000 Manilow Bucks credit to purchase instruments for the teacher’s classroom as well as a $5,000 cash prize for the recipient from the Manilow Music Foundation, recognizes outstanding educators who give their heart and soul to their work and their students. Jackson, of course, fits the bill.
“Teaching means the world to me,” Jackson said. “I have always tried to be the teacher I needed, and had, throughout my life. I have the unique situation where I teach the same kids for four years in a row, so I get to know these students very well. I am grateful that I’m able to be a part of their lives and provide them with a safe place to land along the way, should they ever need it.”
During the pre-concert festivities, while presenting Jackson with the award, Manilow commented on her fine work and noted all the positive things he had heard about it. His words spoke volumes about her contributions to the lives of her students and the Harborfields community. Jackson, with a sense of modesty, reflected on the entire experience with extreme gratitude.
“I am completely humbled, and there are no perfect words to describe the appreciation I have for everyone who took the time to support me and vote,” Jackson said. “I never would have imagined that something like this would happen during my career.”