Jackson Academy (Mississippi)

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Jackson Academy
4908 Ridgewood Road
Jackson, Mississippi
Coordinates 32°21′45″N 90°8′28″W / 32.36250°N 90.14111°W / 32.36250; -90.14111Coordinates: 32°21′45″N 90°8′28″W / 32.36250°N 90.14111°W / 32.36250; -90.14111
Type Primary and Secondary Independent College Preparatory Schooll
Motto Integrity, Achievement, Growth.
Established 1959
Founder Loyal M Bearss
President Clifton Kling
Headmaster Pat Taylor
Grades K3 through 12
Enrollment 1,450
Color(s) Navy, Silver and White
Athletics Baseball, Basketball, Cross-Country, Dance/Cheer, Football, Golf, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Track, Volleyball
Mascot Raiders
Nickname JA
Accreditation SACS,[1] SAIS
Yearbook Reflections
Affiliations NAIS, SACS, SAIS, and the MAIS

Jackson Academy is an independent, co-educational college preparatory school in Jackson, Mississippi. Jackson Academy was founded in 1959 on the basis of teaching children phonetic reading. Today, the campus is thriving with nearly 1450 students in grades K3 through 12. The school is a member of the prestigious Cum Laude Society Academic Honorary, one of only four charter members in Mississippi.

JA is the largest independent school in Mississippi.[2]


Jackson Academy is accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Southern Association of Independent Schools. Affiliations include the National Association of Independent Schools, the Cum Laude Society, the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools and the Jackson Area Association of Independent Schools.


The Mississippi State Times announced the opening of a new academy in Jackson, Mississippi, set to debut in early September 1959. The name of the new school was to be Jackson Academy. The idea for the new school developed during the previous year when ten parents of first grade-aged children got together and decided how their children's first grade instructor, Mr. Loyal Bearss, and his curriculum should be extended through all of elementary school.

Jackson Academy, led by founder and headmaster Loyal M Bearss, was to have its foundation on the old educational standards of reading, writing, and arithmetic. The curriculum was both classical and experimental – classical in that the textbooks were taken from the McGuffey Readers and Webster’s Bluebacked Speller; experimental in resurrecting the concept of teaching reading through phonics rather than sight and memorization of words.

In 1959, Jackson Academy began operation in a renovated residence on Northview Drive in Jackson, MS. The school included grades primer through fourth grade. By 1963 Jackson Academy had grown to some 103 students, after which the JA Corporation purchased 5.5 acres on Ridgewood Road where main campus is located today.


Peter Jernberg was Jackson Academy's headmaster from July 1988 until November 2005, when he became the school's president. Jernberg also serves on the Board for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and is the past president of the Delta State University Foundation and the Southern Association of Independent Schools. In 2014, Jernberg retired.[3]

In December 2006, Pat Taylor was named headmaster. Taylor came to Jackson Academy from Mobile, AL, where he served as Assistant Headmaster at St. Paul's Episcopal School. In 2014, Clifton Kling became president.

Senior Leadership[edit]

Position Name
President Clifton Kling
Headmaster Pat Taylor
Dean of Students, Associate Headmaster Bill Bunch
Preschool Dean Tara McDaniel
Lower School Dean Sarah Love
Middle School Dean Matt Morgan
Upper School Dean Steven McCartney
Dean of Technology Eddie Wettach
Athletic Directory Bobby West
Assistant Athletic Director David Sykes
Director of Finance & Operations Angie Antici
Director of Admissions DeLeslie Porch
Director of Development Tim McWilliams
Director of Marketing & Communications Patti Wade
Chaplain John Hugh Tate
Coordinator of Student Services Paula Pratt
Coordinator of Studies Beth Murray Wilson


Jackson Academy is currently involved in the most transformational expansion in the school’s history. According to the school's website, the Bold Vision, Bright Future master plan has been divided into two phases with costs reaching an estimated $17.5M:

Phase One: JA is currently at the midpoint of Phase One. Phase One includes the following: a performing arts center for school programs, theatrical productions and concerts as well as classroom and rehearsal space for choral music and a black-box theater. The new Performing Arts Center was dedicated and opened in early 2010; a student commons with dining facilities; student lounges and meeting spaces accessible to all grades; an enclosed atrium connecting the student commons to the performing arts center; an academic lawn along Ridgewood Road made possible by moving parking and traffic circulation behind the buildings; a new parking lot creating 150 additional spaces as well as improved traffic flow with a quarter mile of queuing space for cars on campus and off public roads; and a new 2,000 seat gymnasium adjacent to the secondary school gym.

Phase Two: Phase Two will include replacement of long-serving facilities with a new, state-of-the-art junior/senior high building to serve grades 7-12; and a new, expanded elementary building.


Jackson Academy also excels in developing successful student athletes. JA student athletes regularly compete in volleyball, football, soccer, basketball, tennis, swimming, dance, cheer, golf, softball, cross-country, track, and baseball. In 2010, student athlete Davis Rogers was named one of 6 male national finalists for the Wendy's High School Heisman Award after being selected from approximately 55,000 national applicants.[4]


Jackson Academy has won seven MAIS AAA Division I Championships in football.

Varsity Basketball[edit]

Jan Sojourner, head basketball coach of the Varsity Lady Raiders, ranks as one of the winningest Mississippi high school girls basketball coaches in history. After her first year of coaching at Jackson Academy she has posted a winning record each of her over 30 seasons, with 4 Overall State Championships and numerous divisional championships.

Bill Ball, head basketball coach of the Varsity Raiders, carries a 277-83 record in his first 10 years at Jackson Academy with 2 Overall State Championships.

Varsity Baseball[edit]

Jay Powell, with a record of 91-49 as head baseball coach, led the Varsity Raiders to their first State Championship in 9 years. The 2011 team broke numerous personal and team records on their way to winning the Championship including most runs scored in a season (363), most strikeouts thrown (310), most home runs (34), most wins (29).

State championships[edit]


  • 1995
  • 1996
  • 2001
  • 2003
  • 2004
  • 2005
  • 2009
  • 2010
  • 2011


  • 1985
  • 1986
  • 1992
  • 1999
  • 2002
  • 2011

Boy's basketball overall titles[edit]

  • 1994
  • 1995
  • 2004
  • 2006

Girl's basketball overall titles[edit]

  • 1984
  • 1992
  • 1996
  • 2001
  • 2002

Athletics on the radio[edit]

Jackson Academy is one of a few high schools, independent or public, to have all of its football, boys basketball, girls basketball, and baseball games broadcast via radio in the Jackson, Mississippi area. Bryan Eubank has been the voice of the Raiders in some capacity since 2000, and has called the capture of 9 MPSA State Championships. Bryan spent 2005–2007 as the voice of the Mississippi Braves before returning to call all three major sports for the Raiders in the fall of 2007.

Tech Center[edit]

Jackson Academy’s Tech Center construction completed in July 2012.

The Tech Center’s primary functions are support and professional development. In the Tech Center students bring their devices in order to get support with software or hardware. Jackson Academy is able to do any repairs to Apple devices in-house. Teachers will often come to the Tech Center to get help as well. Using the three LCD screens, teachers and technology personnel can use the Tech Center as a professional development meeting area.


Images is a publication of fiction, nonfiction, poems and art by Jackson Academy students. The publication has won the Gold Crown, the highest award bestowed by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association; no other high school publication in the state of Mississippi has received this award. Images also has won the Highest Award by the National Council of Teachers of English.


  1. ^ Institution Summary, AdvancED, Retrieved 2012-07-10
  2. ^ "Bunting and Lyon's private school directory". Comprehensive Directory of Private Schools. 
  3. ^ Jernberg to be Honored Apr. 2, 2014.
  4. ^ "Wendy's High School Heisman". 2010 National Finalists.