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Video | How Anthony Jackson became the Conductor

“I’m a little brown boy from Washington, D.C. Based on statistics, I was supposed to have a different ending to this book.”

As a child living in poverty, Dr. Anthony Jackson never imagined himself leading a school district — much less being named the 2020 North Carolina Superintendent of the Year.

Back then, he just wanted to play music.

Today, Dr. Jackson sees parallels between his musical skills and his success as a leader. The many educators he manages as superintendent of Vance County Schools are the “differing sounds” and “differing parts” that must come together in harmony.

Dr. Jackson attributes much of his success to the mentors who saw his potential over the years and invested in him. Now, his most motivational days at the office are when he gets to do the same thing for children in his district.

Behind the Story

Dr. Jackson’s comments in this video come from a 50-minute Zoom call we had in April 2020. The art is hand-drawn, either freehand or traced, using ProCreate on an iPad Pro. To create the drawings, I used my own photos, pictures supplied by Dr. Jackson, stock images, public domain images, and photos from the EdNC library. Although my goal was to accurately depict Dr. Jackson’s world as he described it, my own biases, assumptions, and artistic liberties are inherent in this piece. The visual depictions of Dr. Jackson were created based on his direct feedback, and I received his consent to use them as presented before publication.

Robert Kinlaw

Robert was director of multimedia for EducationNC. He is a journalist and award-winning documentary filmmaker in the Triangle. Robert attended both public and private grade schools in North Carolina and graduated from the Media and Journalism school at UNC-Chapel Hill. He has produced video content for The News & Observer, ABC11-WTVD, UNC-Chapel Hill, The News Reporter and more. His short documentary Princess Warrior received an Excellence in Filmmaking award at the 2017 Carrboro Film Festival. Visit his website at