J. Garfield Jackson, Sr. came to East Orange in 1951 to teach at Eastern School becoming one of the city's earliest African-American teachers.* In 1962 he was appointed principal of the newly formed Kentopp School, a kindergarten to 4th grade school located in the former "Stockton School West" building, making Mr. Jackson the first African-American principal in the city (one source says first in Essex County). In 1972 he became interim East Orange School Superintendent and Director of Principals and retired in 1980.
Mr. Jackson was born April 28, 1912 in Americus, GA. He graduated from Hartford, CT schools in 1928 and from State Normal College** (teachers' college) at Glassboro, NJ in 1935. He began his career in the Elk Township, NJ School District as a teaching principal before coming to East Orange. Mr. Jackson passed away December 4, 2006 and is buried in Rosedale Cemetery in Orange.
Photos of Mr. Jackson and more biographical info
* The newspaper The Afro-American reported on June 19, 1948 that Mrs. Cornelia Whiting had just been appointed East Orange's first African-American teacher and would teach at Eastern School, also reporting in the article that Eastern's student population was then 80% African-American.
** The college is now named Rowan University.