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STAR Student and Teacher Selected

Congratulations to Dolph Maxwell, who has been named Jackson Academy’s STAR Student for the 2017-2018 school year by the Mississippi Economic Council M.B. Swayze Foundation, sponsor of the Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program. This prestigious award is granted on the basis of academic excellence demonstrated through ACT scores and scholastic averages.

Established by the Mississippi Economic Council in 1965, the purpose of the STAR program is to recognize outstanding students and teachers in Mississippi. Each STAR student selects a STAR Teacher. Dolph designated English teacher Schuyler Dickson as STAR teacher in recognition of Dickson’s significant contribution to Dolph’s scholastic achievements.

Dolph will be honored during the annual Education Celebration on April 12, 2018, at the Jackson Convention Complex in downtown Jackson. Mississippi’s ALL-STAR Scholar for 2017-2018 will be named at the celebration, winning the $24,000 Cook Foundation Scholarship.

Jackson Academy Students Step Up as Youth Leaders

Serving as youth leaders across the Jackson metro area are (from left) Logan Thomas, Gabrielle Morris, Charlie Gautier, and Lacey Irby. Not pictured: Preston McWilliams.


Each year, Jackson Academy is proud to have several students selected for participation in youth leadership programs across the Jackson metropolitan area. This year Preston McWilliams and Gabrielle Morris have been selected for the Madison County Youth Leadership Class. Charlie Gautier, Lacey Irby, Gabrielle Morris and Logan Thomas have been named Ridgeland Chamber of Commerce Junior Diplomats.

“Volunteering in your community is really fulfilling,” said junior Gabrielle Morris. “We live in this city, so we want it to be the best it can possibly be.” Participation in the Ridgeland Chamber of Commerce Junior Diplomats program and the Madison County Youth Leadership Class opened her eyes to the many ways students can serve in their communities. Both leadership programs offer a variety of workshops, seminars, and community-service projects to develop students’ awareness and ability to lead and to serve with character and wisdom.

After Kosovo, Schade Family Reunites at JA


Jackson Academy parent, Lieutenant Justin Schade, wanted to surprise his family. He succeeded, and he received a nice surprise in return.

The Army lieutenant with the 1st-185th Aviation Unit had been granted leave to return a few days early from Kosovo. He surprised his wife by showing up at home one night while the children were asleep. Melanie Schade quickly joined in on the surprise for their children and helped her husband stay hidden until the children were dropped off at school the next morning. The original plan was to check the children, Molly, second grade, and Amelia, K-3, out early and surprise them at home.

But when JA teacher Amanda Cross found out about the early check out, she and fellow faculty members suggested another, and larger, plan. They arranged a gathering of the entire Preschool and second grade in the Preschool Gym to officially welcome Lieutenant Justin Schade home.

Photo by Charlotte Barry

As music teacher Holly Collums announced a special guest, both girls showed shock and surprise as their dad entered. After lengthy hugs and tears, and a few moments to reconnect, the Schade family was serenaded by 250 children and adults singing “God Bless America” in Lieutenant Schade’s honor.

Lieutenant Schade had been gone since May 11, with one visit home at Christmas. This was his first deployment, although not his first extended trip away from family. Previous training had required travel and separation from the family when Molly was 4 years old (photo right).

The Schades planned a fun afternoon of lunch and play, which Amelia quickly seconded. Molly, though, had other ideas. She wanted to come back after lunch for STEM class.

New Members Inducted to Cum Laude Society


Established to recognize scholastic achievement in secondary schools, the Cum Laude Society has granted charters to only four schools in Mississippi. Jackson Academy’s chapter welcomed these new members in an induction ceremony this morning: (from back, left) Lucy Clement, Camille Couey, Avery Hederman, Sam Ciaccio, Burkette Moulder III, Columbia Holeman, Kit McCormack, Hadley Brennan; (front) Blaine Bowman, Hannah Collums, Anna Claire Williams, Allie Perkins, and Erin Hederman.

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.

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