By MARILYN TINNIN
Jack Milne Called to Serve Students
When Jackson Academy began a broad and serious search last year for a new Vice President and Dean, they knew exactly what they were looking for. The bar was set incredibly high.
They wanted a mature person with real-world experience, a person of deep faith and character who had a passion for developing faith and character in young people, someone whose philosophy of education valued every student’s talents and potential, and someone who embraced educational challenge and change with optimistic enthusiasm and a willingness to work extremely hard.
Jackson Academy welcomed Jack Milne this year as their new Vice President and Dean of the School. He and wife Caroline, whom he insists is his much better half, arrived in Jackson from Jacksonville, Florida, this past summer. Although Jack has spent the past sixteen years in both classroom and leadership positions at The Bolles School, one of the nation’s leading independent schools, he was a latecomer to the career he loves.
An Offensive Lineman at Vanderbilt in the early 1970s, Jack received a Bachelor of Arts in History intending to teach. Somewhere along the way, he decided that practicing law might be more practical, and so he earned a law degree from the University of Florida College of Law. He practiced with his brother for ten years, and although he thoroughly enjoyed the study of law, he did not find great satisfaction in actually practicing it!
He also worked in a few family businesses but never quite lost the desire to teach. Twenty-five years from the day he graduated from college, he sought the counsel of a close friend who happened to be a college professor. That friend encouraged him to go to see a certain school administrator, telling him that he would be interested if a position ever became available. Jack left the interview that day thinking, “At least I have made the effort. If anything comes of it, maybe it’s meant to be.”
That administrator called him within the week. The Economics teacher had been called to the Military, and the job was Jack’s if he wanted it. Sounds quite serendipitous, but it was so right. He loved everything about teaching from the first day.
Jack was asked in an interview once to compare being a teacher to being a lawyer. He said, “When I was a lawyer, I couldn’t wait until Friday, but when I became a teacher, I couldn’t wait until Monday!”
When he was asked to assume his first administrative role, he agreed to do so only if he could continue to teach at least one History course. Although he considers English to be the most important subject in a well-rounded education, he values History as a close second. “I don’t know how anyone can understand where we are without knowing how we got here—the good and the bad.”
Considering his thoughts on the importance of History and English, no one should be surprised that his educational philosophy is holistic in scope. Character development is at the heart of everything. He cites Aristotle who said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
Also a big fan of C.S. Lewis’s, he quotes him as well. Lewis said, “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”
One of his present projects is creating a meaningful honor system at Jackson Academy. With student and faculty input, he believes such a system can have a positive lifelong influence on every student. “When I see a graduate walk across that stage to receive a diploma, I care a lot more about who that young adult has become and what they’re taking with them than their performance in the classroom.”
In his free time, he enjoys a wide range of hobbies especially all things pertaining to Civil War history. He fell in love with the subject during his college days in Nashville while so many of the battlefields, museums, and historical sites were so close by.
He confesses a penchant for collecting several different things including antique duck decoys, Civil War artifacts, art, and items of sentimental family significance. A glance around his office reveals a man with lots of interests! He jokes that he might be a potential subject for the television series Hoarders.
Caroline Milne is her husband’s best friend. Like Jack, she reinvented her life’s calling at midlife leaving a career in teaching and administration to go back to nursing school. She was as passionate about her second career as he has been about his.
The Milnes share a blended family of two daughters and a son who are scattered between New York City, Los Angeles, and Jacksonville.
They make a great team as people who find loving and serving other people easy, and in turn other people love them right back. The Milnes are Episcopalians and have enjoyed visiting both St. James Episcopal and St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Jackson. Caroline also attends a weekly Bible Study Fellowship group.
One of Jack’s first duties was to come up with a theme for the school year. He had to present it to the faculty and the student body when he made his first day of school address. This was something he put much thought and prayer into because to a “big picture” person like he is, it was like a frame around everything else.
It came to him in church on a Sunday morning. It was part of the Eucharist prayer, and it was indeed for him a sign that God was very much in touch with his debut at Jackson Academy!
“Eternal God, Heavenly Father, grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart through Christ Our Lord.” There it was and here it is if you happen be a part of Jackson Academy this year—“With Gladness and Singleness of Heart.”
What a great way to work!