Endowment Supports Education for Clergy Spouses
By: Jennifer Allen, Methodist Foundation of Mississippi
|Allie Foster Jackson.
She went to hear the music and left home to go to school.
Allie Foster Jackson was a music lover all her life. This love not only persisted for a lifetime but it led to a desire for the best education she could find. Running away to go to school is not something you hear about many children, but young Allie was not your average child. She was the eldest of 7, knew how to work hard, and wanted to learn.
As a child, Allie Foster attended a concert held by the Piney Woods Cotton Blossom Singers, a quartet composed of students from Piney Woods School. A music enthusiast down to her bones, Allie conversed with the group members about their music, lives, and, most importantly, their education at Piney Woods School. Allie wanted what Piney Woods had to offer for herself. She left home to attend the Piney Woods School, one of only a few black boarding schools in the country. The school employed an integrated staff and allowed students to enroll at no charge. It was there that Allie gained her education and her recognition that it takes hard work to succeed. Allie graduated from Piney Woods, and in doing so, she paved the way for her siblings to attend. They worked hard too.
Allie Foster attended Jackson State College, where she played music and graduated with a B.S. in Education. A teaching degree wasn't the only thing she took away from JSC. It was there she met and married Mr. Embra Knox Jackson, Sr. As one of the first African Americans to qualify for and join the Marines, he was no stranger to hard work. Together, they encouraged one another to follow their passions. He became a lifelong teacher, eventually gaining his Masters in Special Education. Allie also became a teacher, as well as a band director and choral director. After studying at Atlanta University and Indiana University, she earned the credentials to become a librarian. Allie Jackson was also a church musician, dedicating her talents to Anderson United Methodist Church, where she was a devoted member. She never stopped encouraging education and loving music.
The Jackson family knew that education wasn't a requirement; it was just a part of life. Their mother made it clear, as the matriarch of the family, that there were things that didn't need to be discussed or debated, and education was high on the list. Allie Jackson was a genteel force to be reckoned with, and she spoke up when she needed to be heard. Right was right. The Jacksons were recognized as a power education pair by Jackson Public Schools. JPS was one of the best school districts in the state, and the Jacksons’ served there until their retirement.
The Jacksons' educational expectations have persisted through the generations. Their son, Rev. Dr. Embra Jackson, Jr., is a Retired Elder in the United Methodist Church. No small amount of parental pride was associated with that accomplishment. However, Rev. Dr. Jackson does acknowledge one shortcoming, his mother's musical talent seems to have skipped a generation. His daughter, Allie's granddaughter, "her gal" Katelyn, received her musical genes. She is an accomplished musician playing the flute, violin, and guitar. She also attends medical school, proving the education gene is just as strong.
Allie Jackson sat down with her daughter-in-law, Rosia, and began encouraging her to finish her degree and become National Board Certified. Mrs. Jackson knew that as a clergy spouse, Rosia would need a job that would work with her husband's career and the itinerant nature of the UMC. Rosia Jackson attained her degree in Education with her mother-in-law's unfailing love and support, ensuring her career path was set.
That love and support inspired the Jacksons to later establish the Allie D. Foster Jackson College Scholarship Endowment. The intention of the endowment is to assist those attending an accredited college or university, with priority given to clergy spouses. Allie must be smiling with approval over the opportunities this endowment offers. After all, she went to hear the music and left home to go to school.