SOAR Outdoor Program

Character, learning, and integrity are the bedrock of your students’ future, and at JA we partner with you inside and outside of the classroom to cultivate good life principles.

JA’s SOAR Outdoor Program began as a seventh-grade rafting trip more than 40 years ago. The traditional adventure has been enhanced and expanded into a program that focuses on educational principles that include ethics, faith, service, outdoor education, and leadership for students throughout the entire school community. SOAR’s opportunities help students grow during experiential learning and involvement in their communities through outdoor adventures in the South.

A Committed Community

The SOAR Outdoor Program involves volunteers made up of a director who solicits counselors, teachers, staff, outdoor experts, and parents who help mentor students outside the classroom. SOAR service opportunities begin as early as Middle School to help students learn ethics and spirituality “via the outdoors.” The students take part in outdoor activities that develop their teamwork, outdoor education, and leadership skills.

Experiential Opportunities

This spring, there are 14 new Outdoor Adventures in the South for the Upper School and four rafting/hiking adventures for the seventh and eighth grade (see link). There will also be team building, initiative games, and outdoor cooking for fifth and sixth grades utilizing the gym and JA’s Ashleigh Park. Opportunities include student-led spiritual devotions, reflections, and discussions.

Meet Our Program Director

Wayne “WT” Taylor
SOAR Program Director

In his new role as Jackson Academy’s SOAR Director, Dr. Thomas Wayne “WT” Taylor, will build upon the existing SOAR program, modeling his work after the outdoors programs at state universities throughout the South. He plans to develop student leaders to assist in planning and executing trips, empowering students to step into leadership roles or jobs in outdoor adventure.

Dr. Taylor holds a bachelor’s degree in history and education from Mississippi State University, a Master of Science in elementary education from Baylor University, a Master of Arts in outdoor education from Southern Methodist University, and in 2001 he earned a Ph.D. in leisure studies and outdoor recreation from the University of Mississippi.

We encourage every student to be involved with the SOAR Outdoor Programs. These programs have a minimal cost to cover expenses; however, they are very affordable. For more information, contact WT Taylor at, or drop by Room “B” in the Learning Commons on the second floor of the Administration Building.