Exercising her expertise in psychology as a school district administrator, Jacqueline Pflughoeft Blackwell has directed the student services section of the San Jose Unified School District since 1994. Knowing she would go into education from a young age, due in part to being raised in a strict family setting, she first joined the school district in 1970 as a teacher, remaining in this position for 13 years. She then took on the role as the district’s school psychologist for three years before moving up the ranks to the position of director of special education and psychological schools from 1986 to 1990. Prior to her current post, she held a short tenure as a principal within the district from 1990 to 1994.

Before fulfilling her life’s dream of becoming an educator, Ms. Blackwell enlisted as a company clerk with the Women’s Army Corps from 1954 to 1955. After completing her service, she pursued a formal education at Mount Senario College in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, in 1966 before transferring to San Jose State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1969. She continued her studies at the university, receiving a Master of Arts and Master of Science in psychology in 1972 and 1989, respectively. She then attended the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology (now known as Palo Alto University), as a PhD candidate, completing all requirements except a dissertation in neuropsychology between 1986 and 1997, and became a licensed school psychologist in the state of California.

Outside of her primary duties, Ms. Blackwell has written two handbooks, the “District Student Behavior Handbook” and “District Special Education Guidebook,” used by her own school district. She has also maintained involvement with myriad organizations in her field, notably as a member on the board of directors for the San Jose Teachers Association from 1979 to 1983. Other associations she has been affiliated with include the American Psychological Association, the California Psychological Association and the National Association of School Psychologists.

Today, Ms. Blackwell enjoys spending her free time doing motor sports with her husband, Clifton, who was inducted into the Speedway Hall of Fame in Calistoga, California, in 2018. The couple met during their shared military service, and will be married for 64 years in August. Together, they have four beloved children, Arthur, Clifton, Jeanne, and Corwyn, as well as two granddaughters, Amanda and Evie, and one great-granddaughter named Athena. The highlight of Ms. Blackwell’s career was the perseverance she possessed throughout her life that helped her to encourage others, especially young people, to endure and press on, despite the obstacles that lay ahead. Be it financial, education, or talent, nothing could take the place of persistence.

The factors or attributes that Ms. Blackwell feel have played a role in her success is that she is a good listener. She was always steadfast in the direction that she was going in. Looking forward, Ms. Blackwell would like to be remembered by her peers as someone who worked with them, supported them, and was not there to criticize because each human being has some talent in them. Our leaders are the educational leaders in our system, and it is what the teachers are given that are then given to the children.

The advice that Ms. Blackwell can offer fellow members or others aspiring to work in her profession is a quote by former president Calvin Coolidge, which is “…persistence and determination. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.” The quote continues on to say “Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan, ‘Press on,’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”


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