Mississippi school district mourns the death of teacher killed by wrong-way driver on interstate

Published 5:42 am Monday, June 24, 2024

The Canton Public School District is mourning the tragic loss of Mrs. Tyra Small-Jackson, a beloved educator who was killed in a head-on collision caused by a wrong-way driver. The incident occurred on I-55 near the Gluckstadt exit when Jordan Leah Sullivan, 32, reportedly drove under the influence and collided with another vehicle.

Mrs. Small-Jackson, 48, was a passenger in the vehicle and died at the scene. She was a dedicated teacher at Nichols Middle School, recently named the 2023-2024 Teacher of the Year, and a respected community member. Her commitment to education and students’ well-being left an indelible mark on countless lives.

Superintendent Gary Hannah, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, and students, extended heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Small-Jackson’s family, expressing deep sorrow and support during this difficult time. The district acknowledged her years of distinguished service and her philosophy that every child deserves a stimulating educational environment.

“Her beautiful spirit will forever live on in the memory and the hearts and minds of the countless lives she touched,” a post on the school district’s Facebook page said. “We are thankful for Mrs. Small-Jackson’s years of distinguished service to the Canton Public School District. She dedicated her life to ensuring her students felt loved and prepared for the next level. She will be truly missed.”

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In addition to Small-Jackson, another passenger in the vehicle was taken to the hospital for treatment, while a baby in the vehicle is expected to be okay. Sullivan, who has been charged with aggravated DUI, was also injured and taken to the hospital.

The loss of Mrs. Small-Jackson is deeply felt by the Canton community, where her legacy of love, service, and excellence in education will continue to inspire.

Small-Jackson submitted the following biography upon her selection as Nichols Middle School’s Teacher of the Year.

Tyra Small-Jackson is a 23-year veteran teacher and a native Cantonian who has matriculated through these halls as a Mighty Tiger. She was Miss Sophomore, Miss BSAP, a yearbook staff member, and an editor of the Tiger Tribune. She was a member of the Canton High Gospel Soul Children, founded by the great Randolph Watson. Being in the choir afforded her an opportunity to travel in and out of state, perform in choir competitions, record music professionally, and also sing in the movie A Time to Kill. Mrs. Jackson was also a member of Mu Alpha Theta and the National Honor Society. While being in Mu Alpha Theta, Mrs. Jackson was able to compete in math competitions on the local and state levels. She graduated in 1994 in the top 3 of her class.
After graduating high school, Mrs. Jackson attended Belhaven College, later named Belhaven University. While there, she was a member of BSA, the Black Student Association, a Scholar in Resident, and a recipient of Representative Bennie G. Thompson’s scholarship. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education.
Mrs. Jackson chose to give back to her community and began her teaching career at Nichols Middle School under the leadership of Mr. Cleveland Anderson. She has taught 7th-grade Reading, 5th and 6th-grade ELA, and 8th-grade Computer Discovery, ICT II, and Cyber Foundations II. She has worked at Porter Middle School and briefly at Canton Elementary. Throughout her tenure, she has served on several committees and received many accolades.
While teaching, Mrs. Jackson furthered her education by attending THEE Jackson State University, where she received a Master’s degree in Elementary Education.
Mrs. Jackson’s philosophy in education is that all children are unique and must have a stimulating educational environment where they can grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. It has always been her desire.