Mercersburg Academy and the world lost an incredible community member, coach, colleague, mentor, teacher, and friend on November 15, 2022 with the passing of former Academy history teacher and wrestling coach, Nate Jacklin. His influence left a deep impact on everyone who knew him, and the respect and loyalty his colleagues, students, and athletes hold for him speak to the integrity of his character and the powerful legacy he leaves behind.
Jacklin came to Mercersburg as a postgraduate student in 1996. As a student, he played soccer, served as the wrestling team’s captain, and was a member of the Irving Society. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and working for a time at a New York City brokerage and in Virginia public schools, Jacklin returned to Mercersburg to teach and coach in 2008. Leadership Gift Officer Jenn Bradley ‘99, a colleague, said, “Mr. Jacklin and I were in the same faculty class; we both started in 2008, and I had an immediate introduction to his slow, dry wit. He made a joke, at my expense, during faculty orientation, and that was the beginning of our friendship. I knew he was someone who was both serious and would also make the job fun, which is so important when you work with young people. He was a master at this!”
The three biggest pillars of Jacklin’s life were his family, teaching, and coaching. Jacklin was loving husband to his wife, Lindsay, who arrived with him in 2008. In subsequent years they had three children: Hailey, Ella, and Matthew. Nothing made him happier than his family.
In the classroom, Jacklin had high expectations for his students as well as for himself. He was constantly innovating to make his classes more engaging. Working alongside fellow colleague and English teacher Todd McGuire, Jacklin helped design Entrepreneurship as part of the capstone program, a course which has since drawn a large portion of the senior class each year.
Head of School Quentin McDowell, also a colleague, said, “What I witnessed over the 10+ years of working with Mr. Jacklin was that he was an incredibly dedicated educator and coach who challenged and loved the students he worked with. He was smart, honest, and dedicated, holding himself and everyone around him to the highest standards.” A student in Jacklin’s Ancient Mediterranean history class, Manuel Ponce ‘23, said, “Mr. Jacklin was an influential teacher not only by helping me improve my writing skills but also teaching me to believe in myself and what I am capable of.”
Jacklin’s work ethic encouraged everyone around him to reach their highest potential. As a coach, Jacklin embodied the values of Mercersburg: Hard Work, Fair Play, Clean Life. Wrestler Ryan Macinnis ‘23 said, “He always pushed me and set high goals, and he made sure I would achieve them. There is no doubt in my mind I wouldn’t be in the same place I am now without him so I will forever be grateful for all he did for me.”
Science Department Head and head track coach Nikki Walker said, “Nate was a competitor. He wanted to win. Winning had many meanings to Nate. Starting something meant finishing. Starting something meant giving everything one had at every attempt. Starting something meant being the best teammate to everyone around him. Starting something meant having a feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment at the end of the day. Teammates were family. Family meant everything.” History department member Dan Walker said, “He ‘encouraged’ me to participate in a grueling ‘Tough Mudder’ 13 mile obstacle course in 2012 and 2013; something that I clearly did not feel physically able to accomplish. When we finished, I was immensely proud and grateful that he didn't ‘let me off the hook.’ It was experiences like this that set Mr. Jacklin aside from others - he knew that pursuing something that felt unachievable provided so many life lessons whether you truly had success or not. He was just special.”
Jacklin had a talent for connecting with students, especially in difficult situations. Dorm Dean Laura Patterson said, “When I worked with Nate in the dorm, he would log the boys for every incident, going to the bathroom or getting a drink after lights out. I learned from him that holding students accountable was important and many times he used it as a tool to have a conversation and get to know them better. He had a soft heart under his tough exterior. Nate went out of his way to connect with students, especially the ones who were struggling to follow the rules and the quiet students who hadn't found their friend groups. He offered to advise and mentor students who were on the verge of being required to withdraw from school. We had many conversations about students who were struggling and brainstorming ways to help them.” Wrestler and former Jacklin advisee Alex Forrester said, “He created a culture where everyone supported everyone like a family.”
Jacklin will live on in the hearts and minds of those he leaves behind and the tributes will continue. Bradley reflected, “Nate was one of the strongest people I have ever known. I will remember his fighting spirit and his determination. He loved fiercely, and I was lucky to be in his sphere. Nate will forever be a model for me on how to live with purpose. Nikki Walker said, “Nate made everyone around him better. At the end of a match - win, lose or draw - every kid was a winner because they learned a lesson to improve upon. That's life. Nate was about life lessons and he taught all of us a lot. I'm blessed to have called him a friend. I will miss him a lot.”