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Bannerman Finds Joy in Mississippi, Teaching, and Challenges


“I like to let them think I’m boring,” said Sara Bannerman. Describing her interests and activities, though, the ninth-grade honors English teacher rapidly dispelled any possibility of being referred to as “boring.” Bannerman’s day-to-day life, including experience in contact combat, fencing, photography, and music, rivals that of the literary characters she teaches students to understand and appreciate.

Born in Jackson, Mississippi, Bannerman said, “I left and came back to my roots.” Her family moved to Louisiana when she was 12 years old. Her father worked there as a petroleum engineering consultant for two years. The family then moved to the coast of Mississippi to be nearer to their extended family. When it came time for college, Bannerman returned to Jackson to attend Belhaven University.

Bannerman brought her own welcoming committee when she returned to Jackson. “My closest friends from every place I’ve lived ended up going to Belhaven,” she said. When not studying English, she taught herself upright string bass and explored every corner of campus alongside her friends. 

Her time at Belhaven changed the way she viewed literature. “I think I came to understand reading literature beneath the surface as opposed to just skimming the top, which is what I had always done,” she said. Studying under professors whose love of language and story infused their teaching pushed her to “find deeper meaning in the text.”

“I had never really planned to be a teacher; it was a really natural thing,” she said. After college she continued to study English in graduate school at Mississippi College. Bannerman worked at Starbucks for a time before being hired to write textbooks. In 2012, she began work as an adjunct professor at MC where she now teaches American, British, and World Literature.

Between teaching at JA and MC, Bannerman pursues her certification to teach krav maga, an Israeli form of contact combat. During the summer of 2016 she trained in Los Angeles at the same facility as Christian Bale’s daughter. He came to watch. She has studied fencing and Victorian post-mortem photography, and learned upright string bass on a whim.

From the intricacies of literature to running into celebrities, Bannerman’s life seems to be anything but boring. One day at Starbucks she heard a voice address her, “Don’t you just love vanilla lattes? I love vanilla lattes.” It was Rene Zellweger. From her seat at the coffee bar Bannerman replied, “Yeah, I do.”

Second Quarter Honor Rolls

Academy Honor Roll

Twelfth Grade Avery Anderson, Janise Bennett, Hadley Brennan, Hannah Collums, Ilana Dallaire, Lacey Irby, Kaitlyn Johnson, William Laird, Braden Lewis, Robert Lewis, Randolph Maxwell, Meredith McClellan, Elizabeth Nosef, Alexa Perkins, Maggie Smith, Emma Ward, Margaret Whitehead Eleventh Grade Skylar Alexander, Eeshaan Bajaj, Ashton Berry, William Butler, Johnathan Carpenter, Ellie Cartwright, Lucy Clement, Camille Couey, Mary Dyess, Susan Felder, Avery Hederman, Erin Hederman, Ansley Hill, Kaydee Holeman, Anne Lundy, Anne McCormack, Michael McWilliams, Brandon Miller, Gabrielle Morris, David Moulder, Charlotte Palmer, Tafarri Pleas, McKinna Powell, Carneilus Powers, Kaylan Sanders, Webster Strickland, Pier Thompson Tenth Grade Reese Anderson, Walker Barnes, Kelsey Burke, James Chustz, Carter Elliott, Courtney Francois, Simeon Gates, Logan Hatten, Caroline Hill, William Janous, Miles Johnson, Case Kempthorne, Azaria McDowell, Kennedy Nations, Virginia Parry, Nora Pickering, Anna Ray, Anastasia Roberson, Lillian Thigpen, Wisdom Ware, Caleb White Ninth Grade Andrew Antici, Thomas Arnold, Connor Bailey, Jonathan Paolo Bautista, Emily Brown, Rosemary Caldwell, Gracie Coe, Emma Collums, Randle Dinkins, Isabelle Eiland , Caroline Graven, Phoebe Guinn, Caroline Harrington, Sophie Hays, Avery Hendrick, Parker Kirby, Zoe Ladner, Warner Lamb, Emory Laseter, Isabelle Lee, Isabel Lehman, Miles Leverette, William Pilkington, Priyadarshini Ray, Emma Roberts, Lillian Robertson, Anna Seago, Lauren Smith, Emery Thigpen, Timothy Usey, Maysa Vivians, Sarah White, Alice Williams Eighth Grade Abigail Addison, Abigail Arnett, Andrew Barrentine, Cannon Bosarge, Anna Bush, Elizabeth Castle, Robert Cheney, Caroline Courtney, Rachel Deaton, Regan Felder, Tye Gardner, Connor Gee, Ferriday Green, Sandon Guild, Samuel Hadley, Reid Hewitt, Tony Holeman, Magdalen Koury, Annalee LeDuff, Davis Lee, Parker Lowe, Timothy Mahaffey, Kennedy McKee, Anna Nichols, Hayden Parr, Anne Roberson, Garrett Smith, Michael Tate, Reed Travelstead, Sarah Usey, John Wicks, Annalee Willson Seventh Grade Thomas Antici, Molly Baldwin, Bailey Berry, Sarah Clay, Sophie Copeland, Lucy Elfert, Mary Farese, Benjamin Flechas, Jeffrey Gao, Grayce Geary, Sydney Hewitt, Emma Hogue, Blake Jones, Adams Kennedy, Ava Ladner, Robert Long, Anna Parker, Elizabeth Perkins, Dev Sharma, Michael Summerford, Kelly Towery, Josh Watson, Olivia Williford, Parker Yarborough

Honor Roll

Twelfth Grade Blaine Bowman, De’ja Bradford, John Carney, William Cheney, Caroline Childress, Samuel Ciaccio, Kellan Clower, Kennedy Collins, Sophie Creath, Jameson Dear, Cailynn Gregory, Jeffrey LeDuff, Emma Lucas, Elizabeth McCubbins, James McLemore, Mary Mitchell, Walker Pedigo, Barron Pitts, Claire Ross, Olivia Stringer, Isabel Temple, Lillian Walker, Sarah Walker, Samuel Warman, Anna Williams Eleventh Grade Ashlyn Adair, Hayden Allen, Shields Armstrong, Addison Avdoyan, Faatimah Bashir, Jane Brown, Samantha Brown, Lily Crawford, John Crisler, Darby Douglas, Sara Fielder, Kelsey Ford, Owen Fracchia, Charles Gautier, Thomas Iupe, Megan Lacey, Sean Lackey, Katherine Overstreet, Kathryn Partain, Dylan Ramey, Walker Rippee, William Spence, Mary Tharp, Logan Thomas, Mary Williams, Turner Willson Tenth Grade Michael Alford, Emily Burks, Matthew Butler, Yasmin Chambers, Elizabeth Childress, John Clark, Kellum Clark, Ava Del Vecchio, Virginia Dyess, Elizabeth Eubank, Sydney Guy, Hannah Hardee, Thad Hawkins, Michael Herrington, Henry Lee, Christian Luckett, Precious Martin, Harris McLemore, Asher Morgan, Sydney Morris, Ja’Ree Myers, Douglas Noble, Alex Rushing, Nelson Thomas, Donald Waller, Mary White Ninth Grade Simms Baker, Parker Bracken, Nicholas Bryan, Mackenzie Coburn, Julianna Copeland, Ava Couey, Ava Crawford, Jenna Daly, James Dinkins, Mary Downs, Tristan Foster, Dorothy Funderburg, Fumilayo Hall, Caleb Hernandez, Zharia Hill, Garner Hixon, Michael Hogue, Andrew Holmes, Hallie House, Rayford Hudson, Ari Jackson, Caitlin Johnson, Madison Lampley, Nicole Lawrence, Ina Lewis, Jonathan Lucas, Duncan McLendon, Elizabeth Mehrle, Nickolas Nail, Thomas Nance, Elizabeth Pedigo, Madeleine Pettus, Anna Reed, Jude Reeves, Lily Rhoden, Elena Roberts, Alexandra Robinson, Thomas Seago, Allison Sessums, Marett Stanley, Wesley Thomas, Katherine Williams, Samia Wilson, Anne York Eighth Grade Daniel Adams, Jordan Bertschler, Andrew Burks, Jalia Coins, Davis Cress, Gunner Cress, Lyllian Crisler, Kendrick Davis, Morgan Dilworth, Reid Felder, Jeff Grant, Hudson Hadley, Harrison Johnston, Ainsley Kling, Libby Lohmeier, Mary Lundy, Daniel Martin, Molly McClure, Hilton McNair, Charles Nutter, Olivia Quin, Mollie Robertson, John Scarbrough, Wesley Whittington, Andrew Williams Seventh Grade William Adams, Stella Allen, Mary Barnette, Gwendolyn Bishop, Cade Breland, Emily Buchanan, Lilly Gebhart, Ann Hammons, Mia Healy, Houston Hearn, Edwin Hooker, Samuel Lester, Merritt Nations, Grace Pratt, Ian Roberson, Clara Rogers, Robert Sheely, Dajionae Weathersby, Bennett Wier

Jack Milne Becomes Head of School

jack-milne-headshot-483x651Jack Milne assumed the role of Jackson Academy Head of School January 1. Jack came to JA on June 1 as Vice-President and Dean of School. Over the summer, he was named Head of School by the Board of Trustees following the announcement that former Head Cliff Kling had accepted an offer to lead the Gulliver Schools in Coral Gables, Florida.

“I am honored and excited about this new opportunity,” Jack said. “I sincerely believe that the best years of Jackson Academy are ahead, and I look forward with great anticipation to playing a part in helping advance the mission of the school in working with students to develop lives of purpose and significance.”

Jack and his wife, Caroline, live in the Sheffield community. “Caroline and I are so grateful for the enthusiastic welcome and support we have received from parents, staff, students, and our Sheffield Drive neighbors. We give thanks daily for our decision to come here to this great school and community.”

Jennifer Wahl Communicates Complex Mathematics


Jennifer Wahl discovered her purpose in first grade. She would be a school teacher. For the next 15 years that dream persisted and became refined as she progressed through elementary, middle, and high school. Jackson Academy is glad to welcome Wahl’s focus and passion to our community as she teaches mathematics in the Upper School.

“You have to be careful because her mom makes the best cupcakes in the world and she can kill you with one finger,” a teacher at Winfield High School jokingly warned Wahl’s classmates. Wahl’s mother served in the Army Special Forces and specialized in hand to hand combat before opening a fabric store in Winfield, Alabama, where she and Wahl’s father raised their six children. Wahl’s father served in the Air Force and now works as a mechanical engineer.

Although she knew she would grow up to be a teacher, Wahl did not decide which subject-area would be her focus until her final year of high school. Several teachers helped her recognize her ability to communicate the complexities of mathematics. When her fellow students repeatedly asked for her to explain how to solve calculus problems they studied during her senior year the teacher finally told her, “They want you, not me. You’ve just got a knack for explaining it.”

Wahl studied math education at Auburn University and was in the Honors College all four years. She also worked in the career center as an employer relations student assistant. She met her husband, Stephen Wahl, a graduate of Jackson Academy, the night before Auburn would defeat Oregon in the 2010 national championship. They were married in December of 2014, after Stephen completed his first semester of medical school at the University of Mississippi. Wahl taught at Brandon High School from 2014 until 2017. While there, she took advantage of development opportunities and found her footing in the classroom.

Although Stephen’s match day may mean moving to a different city for the Wahls, for now Jennifer enjoys living close to his family and working at a school that feels like home. Her days start with an energetic group of humorous, interested students, and throughout the day Wahl is excited to visit with students between lessons. Wahl said, “From the first time I came here everyone was so nice I felt like I was already a part of the family.”

Students Tour Texas Colleges and Universities


Students (from left) Garrett Clarke, Jarvon Gaines, Kelsey Ford, Max Rogers, and Elliott Butler toured several Texas universities together with Jackson Academy Counseling Department staff members. Not pictured: Sean Lackey.


As their bus pulled through College Station they watched the busy pace of a college campus. It is a pace that Garrett Clarke and Max Rogers will be diving into next fall as they enter college. For Jarvon Gaines, Kelsey Ford, and Elliott Butler there is still another year and a half at JA, but college decisions already loom on their horizons. Counselors Amy Bush, Paula Pratt, and Danny Robertson led the group through its three-day tour, guiding students to ask questions and observe different schools’ cultures.

“I think these kids realized, if they hadn’t before, that the town that the college is in is just as important as the college itself,” said Bush. “The surroundings and community play a big role in the campus, and vice-versa.” The students were interested in majors ranging from per-veterinary to petroleum engineering. Despite these differences, they agreed that experiencing the atmosphere and size of a campus was an integral part of discovering whether or not it was a good fit for them.

“I wanted to go the next day,” said Kelsey after visiting Texas Christian University. Perfect fall weather accompanied a great visit throughout their three days in Texas. Bush said, “There is no greater advantage to a student than being on the campus, getting to see what the school is like, what the school is about, because no two campuses are alike.”

For the seniors on the trip, the visit did exactly what it was meant to do: helped them move toward confidentially making a college decision. “We’re really close to deciding where we want to go,” said Garrett.

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