August 15th, 2017

During teacher work week, faculty and staff gathered to hear motivating messages from JA speakers and a guest speaker, Dr. Jimmy Abraham. Wright Busching opened the day with a devotional about humility. He offered a quote from noted Christian apologist C.S. Lewis that “there are no ordinary people.” All people are immortal, and we should conduct our interactions with one another with this in mind.

Greg Johnston ’91, Chair of the Jackson Academy Board of Trustees, welcomed faculty and staff to the start of another school year. He shared fond memories of teachers, especially a dean at JA whose kindness made a lasting impact on his life. “Every time I come back to campus, it is special to me,” Johnston said. Faculty and staff represent one of the “most incredible assets we have on this campus. JA is so blessed to have you,” he said.

Vice President and Dean of the School Jack Milne spoke about fostering a culture that is “relentlessly positive.” He stressed the opportunity each faculty and staff member has to demonstrate a caring spirit each day.

The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Jimmy Abraham, who served Mississippi State University for 38 years in associate vice president roles throughout development, alumni, and student affairs, and as executive director of the university’s alumni association. Several former students who worked as university ambassadors and orientation leaders under Dr. Abraham were in the JA audience and gathered with Dr. Abraham afterward for a photo. Dr. Abraham also mentioned that he and Sherard Shaw graduated from high school the same year, were friends, and played baseball on opposing teams. He recalled stories of the times Coach Shaw had thrown Dr. Abraham all curve balls during a game…three and out.

Dr. Abraham’s message brimmed with guidance from his leadership and personal experiences. He emphasized seizing opportunities to positively influence others, responding well when thrown a curveball, and recognizing the influence of words spoken. He recalled his year as a college freshman in which he did not believe in himself. Encouragers around him would counter his statement, “I can’t do that,” with the positive words, “Yes, you can. I will help you.” He compared people to shrubs that need pruning. With the right attention, they will grow.

JA President Cliff Kling closed the morning by remarking how many of the talks had paralleled one another. He announced that faculty and staff would be given a book to read this year as school faculty. Faculty and staff were also provided a list of 25 suggestions for working at a school from Dr. Abraham.