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McCarley’s Path to Purpose Discovered in Speech and Debate

Since the spring of 2017 Evan McCarley has taught in Jackson Academy’s Academic Resource Center, Writing Center, and coached the school’s speech and debate team. Born and raised in Jackson, McCarley attended pre-kindergarten at JA before attending St. Andrew’s Episcopal School where his mother taught. During his time there he developed many of the passions that continue to shape his path and purpose.

“While I was at St. Andrew’s I became really involved with speech and debate and theatre,” said McCarley. “More than anything, those two activities had a seismic impact on me.” Although he initially joined the speech and debate team to build his resume for college, he soon found an innate love for the activity. When it was time to select a college, McCarley only considered schools that had active forensics teams.

The University of Mississippi proved to be the right fit for McCarley. He studied political science and philosophy while competing on the university’s forensics team and continuing to perform in theatrical productions. Following an internship with a communications firm in Oregon and graduation from Ole Miss, he enrolled at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, to pursue a master’s degree in communication.

When McCarley graduated in 2011 he returned to Jackson where he worked for a political communications firm. He participated in teams that successfully championed causes during a politically charged election year. He next took a job in Memphis as a project manager for a digital marketing firm and worked there for the next four years. While his days were spent in the corporate environment, McCarley used his evenings and weekends to rediscover his love of acting. Through opportunities across Memphis he performed in many shows before returning to Jackson.

“I come from a long line of teachers,” said McCarley. His mother, aunt, and grandmother were all school teachers. In the summer of 2016 McCarley returned to Jackson a second time, this time to stay. Although he had not considered becoming a teacher before, a phone call from his fourth grade teacher Beth Murray Wilson piqued his interest. McCarley had been working a combination of jobs, but at the beginning of 2017 positions had opened in JA’s Academic Resource Center and the school was in need of a speech and debate coach. McCarley was hired and quickly found himself heading to work at JA.

McCarley enjoyed returning to the academic setting and continues to find satisfaction in helping students develop strong written and oral communication skills. His passion for speech and debate finds its outlet here at JA, while his talent for acting continues to put him on the stage. McCarley is currently performing at New Stage Theatre in their production of “Silent Sky,” portraying the head astronomer’s apprentice in the story of the first female astronomers at Harvard College Observatory. He loves to act, but speaking of his desire to see students learn and grow, McCarley said, “That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.”


New Stage Theatre opened “Silent Sky” February 13 featuring two JA faculty members! Kerri Courtney Sanders plays Margaret Leavitt and Evan McCarley plays Peter Shaw in the production. The show runs through February 25.

Eighth Grade Gets a Taste of Reality


Reality hit eighth grade students last Friday. At Jackson Academy’s first Reality Fair each student was given a paycheck based on a career they are interested in pursuing. Each paycheck included a pay stub that showed all tax deductions required by law. Using their after-tax earnings to form their budget, students moved through a rotation of stations where they selected and paid for products and services using amazingly realistic checks. Now they know how to fill one out!

The students’ assigned goal was to spend less money than they earned. C Spire representatives showed them different cell phone plans. Paul Moak’s Honda dealership offered different cars for the students to pretend to purchase. New York Life presented students with insurance options, and Whole Foods Market showed students different grocery plans. The “surprise” station added an extra twist to the day, as students drew a card that told them what unexpected event they would have to pay for that month, like a flat tire or a visit to the doctor. Trustmark National Bank was also on site, talking with students about wise financial decisions. All of the costs of living added up quickly, and many students were shocked to discover that it’s not always feasible to buy what you want on a starting salary!


Throughout the event students took breaks from decision-making to hear from JA alumni Paige Gordy Porter ’07, now a senior audit manager at KPMG, Russ Brabec ’07, who works as a lawyer at Jernigan Copeland Attorneys, and Jessica Arnold ’09, a fourth-year medical student at UMMC. Each speaker spoke about how they chose their career path.

Many young men and women encounter their first opportunity to pay bills and manage their own budgets during their first year out of college. Thanks to Mary Wesson Sullivan and the vendors and alumni who supported this event, Jackson Academy’s eighth grade students were challenged to start thinking about their future. In her closing remarks, Sullivan asked students: “It’s hard to live with this little amount of money, isn’t it? So does this motivate you to work hard in school so that you can get good jobs?” The audience of eighth graders responded with a resounding “Yes!”

Athletes Commit to Play College Ball

Jackson Academy seniors (from back, left) Trent Tyre, John Raines Jr., and Sam Ciaccio indicated their intent to play college sports at a signing ceremony held on February 7 in the Learning Commons. In attendance were family, coaches, friends, and their Alpha and Omega buddies (from front, left) Lewis Garrard, Cash Dickson, and Graham Adams.

Trent Tyre

Trent Tyre of Madison committed to join the football team at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson, Mississippi, this fall. Trent earned recognition as an All-Conference defensive end in the 2016-2017 season. He was awarded Defensive Player of the Year in 4A-Division 1 for the 2017-2018 season. Trent has also won the accolade of All-State Defensive Player of the Year. Trent has played football since he was 7 years old.

John Raines Jr.

John Raines Jr. of Ridgeland will join the University of Mississippi’s football team as a preferred walk-on this fall. John is ranked as the No. 8 long snapper in the nation. During his three years of high school football he performed all perfect snaps, with four game-winning field goal snaps. John is one of 18 five-star rated long snappers in the class of 2018 and one of 10 semifinalists for top long snapper in the nation.

Sam Ciaccio

Sam Ciaccio of Madison has committed to play baseball at Mississippi College. Sam is a six-time Clarion-Ledger Player of the Week nominee. During the 2016-2017 season he served as the Jackson Academy Raiders team captain. Sam was named to the second All-Conference Team. He is a left-handed pitcher and first baseman. He has played baseball for 12 years.


Development Office Announces Staff Changes

Jackson Academy’s Development Office recently made two new staff changes. Ebony Welch, who has worked as development services coordinator for the past two years, will now move to the role of annual giving coordinator. JA Preschool teacher Frances Bussey will serve as alumni coordinator starting June 1, replacing Haleigh Ritter who is now working in the admission office.


Frances, wife of JA alumnus John Bussey ’06, is a familiar face on the JA campus. Frances taught in the Preschool for five years and is excited to take on her new role.

“I hope to develop and maintain wonderful relationships with JA alumni,” Frances said. “I will miss working with the students, but look forward to making JA better beyond the classroom.”

Frances and John have a one-year-old son, Wyc.

The goal of the alumni coordinator position is to build positive relations with Jackson Academy alumni, help them see their importance to the institution, and keep them informed and involved in JA news and events. The office will also help alumni stay connected with each other through reunions and social and professional networking.


Ebony is in her third year at Jackson Academy. Prior to JA she worked in loan operations at Trustmark National Bank for 10 years and at St. Richard Church for five years.

The development services coordinator maintains giving records, acknowledges gifts to the school, and organizes development events. Now as annual giving coordinator, Ebony will add outreach for annual fund gifts to her responsibilities.

“Without the annual fund, JA just would not be the same place,” said Ebony. “We wouldn’t have the best teachers and an amazing Learning Commons and coffee shop. We wouldn’t have all the things that are so easily taken for granted such as nice carpet, updated lockers, and kid-friendly furniture. JA would be a bowl of ice cream, which is good, but what I do definitely adds the chocolate, the whipped cream, and the cherry on top. What’s ice cream without all the goodies we love?”

Along with managing systems and organizing events, Ebony in her new position looks forward to meeting more people. “My son, Cameron, started here in high school so I don’t have the same relationships that people do whose kids have been together since kindergarten. I’m looking forward to getting to know more people and learning their stories and discovering why they love JA.”

Show Choirs Impress Judges and Audiences for Big Wins


Showtime 2018 (photo by Richard Stafford)


Cannon Bosarge, solo winner

Jackson Academy’s show choirs began their competition season Friday and Saturday on a high note. JA’s Middle School and Upper School groups delivered impressive performances that yielded enthusiastic applause, accolades, and the judges’ top award for Encore at Jackson Prep’s Show Choir Masters Competition.



Showtime earned first runner up in the Large Division for middle school show choirs. Cannon Bosarge won first place in the middle school solo competition.

Showtime is under the direction of Amy Arinder with Megan Rowan as accompanist. The group’s program is choreographed by Kevin Chase and Nick Quamme.



Encore 2018 (photo by Richard Stafford)



Encore captured first place in the Large Division for upper school show choirs. Then the group “swept” the competition in finals, meaning the show choir won every category, taking home Best Vocals , Best Visuals, Best Show Design, and Best Costumes . To end the evening, in overall competition among all divisions, Encore was named Grand Champion. Latham Nance earned first place in the high school solo competition.


Encore after the big win


Latham Nance, solo winner


Encore is under the direction of Katie Shores, with accompanist Nancy Cheney, and choreography by Kevin Chase and Nick Quamme.

To see Encore and Showtime, as well as many other impressive show choirs from our state, come to JA for the Jackson Academy Showchoir Invitational this weekend. Click this link for the weekend schedule that begins Friday, February 2.

Both of JA’s show choirs will continue their competition seasons with the following appearances:
February 9-10 – Opelika, Alabama
February 16-17 – West Jones
February 24 – Auburn, Alabama (Encore only)
March 2 – Oak Grove (Showtime only)
March 24 – Heart of America, Orlando, Florida (Encore only)

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