First Baptist Church of Tahoe City’s beloved A+ leader Nell Jackson to retire | SierraSun.com

First Baptist Church of Tahoe City’s beloved A+ leader Nell Jackson to retire

Tim Hauserman
Special to the Sun

Nell Jackson is moving on after more than 25 years of helping kids.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — After 26 years as director of the popular A+ child care program at the First Baptist Church of Tahoe City, Nell Jackson is retiring and moving to Las Vegas.

The parents and children who have been lucky enough to encounter Nell over all those years are very sad to see her go.

"Nell is the human embodiment of the giving tree, selflessly pouring every ounce of her energy into creating this safe, gentle place for our children to land," says parent and North Tahoe High School teacher Laura Roberts. "She is a mainspring of our Tahoe kids. There are very few children that she doesn't know."

Gaynell Jackson moved to California in 1988 from Atlanta to attend the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley.

“Nell is the human embodiment of the giving tree, selflessly pouring every ounce of her energy into creating this safe, gentle place for our children to land.”Laura RobertsNorth Tahoe High School

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As a grad student, she worked with the First Baptist Church when she had time off from school, eventually coming to the church full time in 1990.

"Then-Pastor Dan Holzer asked me to use the building every day of the week," said Jackson, who was the director, the teacher and the driver. "I focused my master's program on what would be the best thing to do at the church. We started out with an after school program five days a week.

"We did it all."

The first year, there were five students. The next year, 28. Now they have 50-60 kids a day, either before or after school, as well as a pre-school with between 20-30 kids a day.

"We started adding things — a before-school program, (the) Big A Summer Camp," Jackson said. "In 2003 we started educational preschool. We tried to do what the community needed — affordable, quality care."

They focused on education. Nell felt that if she helped the kids do their homework, once they got to spend time with their busy parents, they could have quality time not interrupted by school activities.

"I came from an educational focused family; I wanted children to get one on one attention to help them become successful. A safe, loving atmosphere. A home away from home. A comfortable place where they know what to expect," Jackson said. "To take a bit of the responsibility off the shoulders of parents who are working two or three jobs. I'm here for the parents, too, if they are having a hard time."

To parent Emily Fralick, Jackson is, "the salt of the earth. One of those people who would give you the shirt off their back. Someone you can always turn to. Her principals come through in day-to-day life. She has humor, kindness and care for not just the kids, but also the parents."

Amy Carlson has experienced Nell Jackson's care as both a student and as a parent.

"I grew up going there, and now my daughter Cadence is there," Carlson said. "I remember she used to have girls nights out when I was in middle school. Teaching girls how to have good etiquette. I feel really comfortable taking Cadence there."

Jackson speaks proudly of her former students who went on to become valedictorians and important contributors to the community: "It's really exciting to see what they do in life. But I've also been there for the ones that struggle. I've gone to the county jail to speak up for former students. I've gone to court dates for kids. One told me 'If I'd listened to what you taught me, I wouldn't be here.'"

"She vibrates love and unconditional acceptance. You know with her you have a place there. It's a comfort zone for so many people." said Roberts.

While Jackson is sad to go, she feels it is time for new ideas and direction in her life.

She is ready to "not be the boss and enjoy life." She is also really looking forward to getting out of the cold weather and the snow.

Apparently, you can't take the Georgia out of this girl.

If you go

The First Baptist Church at 390 Fairway Drive, Tahoe City, has a celebration planned Sunday, Aug. 28, at 9 a.m. to honor Nell’s amazing contribution to the community. A cookout will follow at 11 a.m. Jackson hopes to see many of her former students there. For information, visit tahoeministries.com or email scottcapshaw@hotmail.com or debbiewohler@charter.net.