Austin has been principal of the John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Louisville, KY, since 1990. Under Austin's direction, the school became the first public school in the state to adopt the Montessori teaching method. This and other reforms helped improve academic performance, attendance, and parental involvement at the school. Austin also expanded school services to include GED adult education classes. In 1996, Austin was chosen as a Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award recipient. For more see Jacqueline Austin at the Milken Family Foundation website, and "KERA: A tale of one school," Phi Delta Kappan, vol. 79, issue 4 (Dec. 1997), pp. 272-276.