Jones College students learn from artist and retired educator, Byron Myrick

ELLISVILLE – After teaching 34 years at Jones College and enjoying retirement for the last 17 years, Hattiesburg artist, Byron Myrick came back to his once familiar pottery studio at Jones College to wrap up his show, “Quilted” which was on display in March in the Eula Bass Art Gallery. He also took time to share some art wisdom with students, including a demonstration on his favorite pottery firing processes. The Past President and Co-Director of the Mississippi Art Colony, and Fellow member of the Mississippi Craftsmen’s Guild is known for his extraordinary work in the Japanese style of pottery known as Raku. The low-firing process is considered one of the most natural techniques, causing crackling because it goes from the firing kiln and into water. Raku translates to “happiness in the accident,” which inspired Myrick to explore ways to create art from the breakages which are common in Raku firing.

“The Japanese didn’t worry about what they were putting tea in, and this type of pottery is not good for storing food. It is a decorative style,” explained Myrick. “While creating pottery over the years, things would break, and I didn’t like it. Eventually, I just started breaking things, a controlled breaking and then I would piece the broken parts together artistically.”

This began a collection of his artwork called, “Quilted.” These pieces are influenced from his fascination with reconstructive archaeological findings of vessels seen in museums and the quilt.

“The quilt is a part of the southern heritage, constructed from many parts to make a whole, and functions as well as a decorative object. With my pottery pieces, I never know how this is going to happen, but I look for variety, size, and shape, assigning color, pattern, texture and marks to each piece. The shards are glazed and fired using the Raku firing technique, which enhances the surface and colors. Each piece is put back together using a strong epoxy,” Myrick shared.

Ellisville graphic artist, and Jones College sophomore, Jonathan Hayes was amazed by Myrick’s pottery skills. He fully respects artists and the skills used to create masterpieces.

“The level of mastery Mr. Myrick has is not something you can get in two courses or even after four years of doing this and nothing else. I don’t think I could do what he does and nothing else and reach his skill level and artistry,” said Hayes. “He showed us how he puts two pieces of pottery together in a modern way which is what I wanted to learn. I love ceramics way too much and I really enjoy making stuff!”

Buying the necessary equipment, pottery wheel and firing kiln, along with the glazes and clay can be expensive. Myrick suggests that students wanting to build a ceramics business should either buy used equipment or be patient; buying as you can afford it. Artist communities found in larger cities often combine resources allowing artists to make money until they can purchase their own equipment.

Myrick completed his undergraduate and graduate work in art at the University of Southern Mississippi and his work has been displayed at the U.S. Ambassador’s residences in Portugal by invitation of Ambassador John Palmer (2001-2009) and the “Arts in Embassies Program.”  He was also privileged to be one of the many talented southern artists selected to exhibit their works in an exhibit titled, “My South, A Celebration of Southern Art,” held in New York City.  His work is in many private and corporate collections throughout the South.

Boyd named Jones College Most Beautiful

Story by Kelly Atwood, Jones College Yearbook and Newspaper Advisor

ELLISVILLE – Summer Boyd of Laurel was crowned Most Beautiful at Jones College’s annual pageant, where she vied against 28 contestants to take the title.

Top Five were Taylor Garretson of Leakesville, first alternate; Halle Myrick of Petal, second alternate; Amberlyn Holifield of Leakesville, third alternate; and Kailee Pipkins of Richton, fourth alternate.

Top Ten also included Micaiah Sumrall of Quitman, Madison Temple of Pearl, Emma Kennedy of Taylorsville, Isabelle Halley of Mize, and Tristen Gendusa of Laurel.

The 2022 Most Beautiful winner, Natalee Ainsworth, returned to crown this year’s winner. Allyson Knotts emceed the event, and Jones OnStage performed during intermission. The pageant is a fundraiser for the college yearbook.

 “The Student Affairs department were instrumental in this year’s pageant,” said Kelly Atwood, yearbook advisor. “It takes many people working together behind the scenes to make this event the success it is, but I want to give special recognition to Emily Sullivan, pageant director, for planning and running the event and Bruce Smith, dean of the college of art, music and performance, for making the location beautiful.”

Due to renovations of the Fine Arts Auditorium, this year the venue was moved to the A.B. Howard Gymnasium.

The Top Ten contestants are pictured left to right, Micaiah Sumrall of Quitman, Madison Temple of Pearl, Emma Kennedy of Taylorsville, Summer Boyd of Laurel, Isabelle Halley of Mize, Taylor Garretson of Leakesville, Halle Myrick of Petal, Amberlyn Holifield of Leakesville, Kailee Pipkins of Richton, and Tristen Gendusa of Laurel.

Jones College Jazz Band makes history with New Orleans Jazz Festival performance

ELLISVILLE – The 25 member Jones College Jazz Band will be making college history when they perform as part of the New Orleans annual Jazz and Heritage Festival in April. Director of Bands, Dr. Ben Burge confirmed this is the first time the JC Jazz Band has been invited to be a part of the 53rd annual Jazz Festival with their Saturday, April 29, performance in the Heritage Museum Courtyard.  

“The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is an annual celebration of music and culture. Huge names in the music world along with regional musicians perform at the Fair Grounds and in and around the city,” said Burge. “I am very excited to bring our jazz students to the Big Easy. I know they will have a wonderful time, give an outstanding performance, and enjoy being a part of such a wonderful cultural and musical experience!”

In 2019, Burge invited New Orleans and world-famous clarinetist, Doreen Kitchens to perform with the Jazz Band which opened the doors to landing a performance in the French Quarter at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Museum.

“Initially, we were just looking for an opportunity to perform. Once we found an available performance date, it landed right in the middle of the largest Jazz Festival and the perfect opportunity for our students to learn a lot on many levels.”

For music major, Jessica Manning of Quitman, this is a huge opportunity and a dream come true. The freshman saxophone player has enjoyed the atmosphere of the New Orleans jazz culture previously but being able to play there is a big honor.

“I saw a bunch of jazz musicians playing in New Orleans and I thought then that I would want to do that and now I finally am!” said Manning. “A lot of people think Junior Colleges don’t get good opportunities but here at Jones College, we get to do a lot of things people have not been able to enjoy.”

Growing up on jazz music, trombonist, Leo Norman of Ellisville is looking forward to being a part of the biggest jazz celebration in the world. Nerves won’t be a big problem for Norman after being a part of the South Jones High School World Championship Winter Guard International group.

“Performing in Dayton, Ohio in 2019, and winning the World Championships was incredible in high school but this will be really cool too, because I’ll be playing jazz music as a member of the first JC Jazz Band to be invited to perform there,” said Norman.

However, Kaitlyn Beasley of Buckatunna, who has played clarinet for seven years, is a little nervous about playing the tenor saxophone in New Orleans with only three months experience.

“I’ve always been intrigued by the jazz band but playing in front of people on saxophone with a little experience is nerve-wracking for me.  I’m still really excited about going to New Orleans because I’ve never been there and this will give me a different view on how people do things, which is important as a music major,” Beasley shared.

Sophomore keyboard player, Hanna Grace Wood of Sandersville noted that music majors have to be knowledgeable in all genres of music and play numerous instruments. Participating in this type of venue is a life-changing experience.

“I was in jazz band all through high school and I knew I wanted to be in jazz band at Jones College. There is nothing like it, and it’s nothing I’ve done before. It’s absolutely amazing! I love the experience and the time I’ve had here at Jones which will be capped off with a performance in the Jazz Capital of New Orleans,” said Wood.

The JC Jazz Band will be performing six tunes which include, “Grazing in the Grass,” “Cry Me a River,” “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Isn’t She Lovely,” “Fremont Trolling” and “Get After It” for their 2 p.m. performance which is free and open to the public. For more information contact JC Director of Bands, Dr. Ben Burge by email at ben.burge@admin

JC Jazz Band

Alto Sax

Jessica Manning, Quitman

Stacy Villaseca, Laurel

T’Kevia Watson, Laurel

Sidney Tisdale, Ellisville

Tenor Sax

Tony Ducksworth, Taylorsville

Dawson Temple, Mize

Kaitlyn Beasley, Buckatunna


Andres Avalos, Laurel

Jennifer Hernandez, Laurel

Leo Norman, Ellisville

Caleb Nichols, Laurel


Reagan Thornton, Laurel

Trinity Williams, Hattiesburg

Cambrie McCree, Ellisville

Ethan Noffke, Seminary

Luis Hernandez, Laurel


Logan Whitehead, Hattiesburg

Conner Smith, Mize

Shawn Beasley, Buckatunna

Kambri Pippin, Laurel

Logan Walker, Waynesboro

JJ Wimbley, Franklin, Alabama

Hanna Wood, Sandersville

Shana Davis, McComb

Cody Holiday, Florence

Adiran Roberts, Quitman

Photo Cutline – Jones College’s Jazz Band will be performing on Saturday, April 29, at 2 p.m. in the Heritage Museum Courtyard as part of the annual Jazz Festival activities. Members of the band are pictured left to right in the front row, Jennifer Hernandez, (seated) Adrian Roberts, Reagan Thornton, (on floor) Stacy Viallaseca, Ethan Noffke, (seated) Kambri Pippin, (floor) Conner Smith, Ty’Kevia Watson, Tony Ducksworth, (seated) Logan Whitehead, Luis Hernandez and (floor) Sydney Tisdale. Pictured in the back row, left to right are Cody Holiday, Caleb Nichols, Kaitlyn Beasley, Hanna Grace Wood, (seated) J.J. Wimbley, (center) Trinity Williams, Leo Norman, (back row seated) Andres Avalos, (standing back row) Shana Davis, (seated) Jessica Manning, (standing) Shawn Beasley and Cambrie McCree.

Jones College alumnus, Tyler Shows earns prestigious educator honor

ELLISVILLE – Petal native and 2010 Jones College graduate, Tyler Shows is still trying to comprehend how he could be one of about 34 educators selected nationwide to receive the Milken Family Foundations’ Milken Educator Award. Plans for his unrestricted $25,000 cash award as a 2022-2023 recipient of the highest award in education known as the “Oscars of Teaching” have also not been determined. Shows explained he’s still uncomfortable about being in the spotlight after receiving the big check last October at a surprise announcement at Petal Upper Elementary School.

Tyler’s parents, Barnard & Georgia Shows

“It’s weird! I have mixed feelings about it because there are about 34 educators awarded this each year nationwide, so I was like, how did I get here? I’m more of a non-traditional teacher,” said Shows. “The Milken Foundation looks for people who do their job well at their schools. I’m very appreciative of the honor but it’s really hard to single out your abilities when I know a lot of people here are equally eligible for this award.”

Only 74 Mississippians have been selected as Milken Award winners since the Foundation began the educator award program in 1987. Nationwide, the honorees represent the top one percent of the three million educators.

Shows shared education was not his first choice as a career; education “found” him. A career in athletics seemed logical considering his love for sports when he began working at the Petal YMCA in high school. He also contemplated a career in science, much like his uncle, Eric Shows, the current Dean of the School of Science and Engineering at Jones College. However, after graduating from Petal High School in 2008, he still didn’t have a clear career path. After earning a Tennis scholarship at Jones College, he met JCJC teachers Mary Boleware, Stephanie Green and Wyatt Moulds who influenced his career path. The Petal native took Physics I and II with Mary Boleware, in addition to a few other upper-level science classes before realizing he really didn’t enjoy science as much as he thought.

“After taking physics with Mrs. Boleware, we had a very honest conversation about my future. I appreciated it. Nobody at JCJC was there just collecting a paycheck. They spent a lot of time with me, asking me about career options without pressuring me. Mrs. Boleware helped me realize science was not in my future,” said Shows. “Jones also did a lot for me in the way of independence. I was not a very independent 18–19-year-old so I really did appreciate a lot of my instructors helping me in that area too.”

Tyler’s aunt Natalie (Shows) Welch graduated from Jones in 2007 and was beginning a career as a Certified Public Accountant at Sanderson Farms. Tyler followed in Natalie’s footsteps and earned a business degree with an emphasis in accounting, at the University of Mississippi in 2012. However, he quickly realized while studying for the CPA exam, this was not his life’s calling. While a student at JC, Tyler continued working at the YMCA’s after-school camps, and transitioned to membership services and sports coordinator after graduating from Ole Miss. After two years, he knew he needed to find another job.

The next career option was education, inspired by his mother, Georgia Shows who has been employed with the Petal School District. Over 27 years, she worked as a secretary before joining the Human Resources Office in the Central District Office and finishing her career in the athletics department. Tyler realized he enjoyed being around the “school world” while his mother worked in his youth. His “epiphany” about being an educator came from then, Petal Football Coach, Britt Rowell.

“He was very honest with me and told me to sign up for education classes at William Carey University. So, I did the Alternate Route while working at the YMCA. I finally found what I was meant to do! Additionally, I decided to earn my master’s degree in gifted education.”

Now, the licensed teacher was hoping to find a job in Petal. When Petal Upper Elementary School was formed, Tyler explained, it was a “D” rated school with a lot of openings for new teachers and administrators. When the principal, Gloria Wyatt called for an interview it confirmed his career path. They were coming off a difficult year, and both principals were new the year he accepted his first teaching job. With a lot of new teachers, there was also a lot of support. He credits his mentor, Sarah Beth Henderson for “making his entire career” because of her guidance. The current Milken Educator also credits every teacher and both principals for successfully becoming an “A” rated school within one year.

Principal Emily Branch & Tyler Shows

“Tyler’s not trying to hoard success for himself. He wants everyone here to be successful and that can make all the difference when a person has that mindset,” said Petal Upper Elementary School Principal, Emily Branch. “It’s my job through the hiring process to seek out really smart and talented people but then give them the freedom to figure out what works. If we’re going to empower students, like our mission statement says, then we must empower the teachers.”

Currently, Tyler is the Lead 5th Grade Math teacher at Petal Upper Elementary School, Nationally Board-Certified, and he was recently invited to work for USM and its World Class Teaching Program as a support provider, helping more teachers earn their national board certification.

Dr. Jane Foley, Senior Vice President of the Milken Family Foundation explained Tyler is a perfect example of everything they are looking for in a Milken Educator. This top honor is reserved for teachers committed to their students, who are creative in the classroom and are leaders in their schools and community. The Milken Foundation partners with the state’s department of education; the recipient is not nominated but chosen because of the impact they make in education.

“He’s not just a teacher. Tyler gives back to the teaching field as a leader in the profession and beyond, which is one of the five criteria for the award. We know they are going to have an influence on their students and a strong influence on their colleagues and community,” said Foley. “Every successful person can remember a teacher that changed their life, and our recipients are those individuals that students remember far into their future. We know our recipients have the potential to be educators and leaders in education for decades to come. Tyler is the teacher that his students will remember throughout their life,” said Foley.

Another key indicator of success at Petal High School is the teacher selected to receive the one ticket High School Seniors give to their “Favorite Teacher Ticket” to attend the high school graduation. Tyler has attended numerous graduations with numerous tickets from students who still think of Tyler as more than a math teacher.

Jones College sophomore music students perform

ELLISVILLE –Five Jones College sophomore music students are inviting the public to hear their last solo performances before graduation.  Sophomores expected to perform are Hanna Grace Wood of Sandersville, Jessica Long of Carnes, Katlyn Myrick of Laurel, Anna Leigh Ragsdale of Mize and Kaylea Yates of Ellisville.

Anna Leigh Ragsdale

On Thursday, April 13, at 7 p.m. in the Foote Chapel, soprano, Anna Leigh Ragsdale of Mize will join flutist, Jessica Long of Carnes for their individual final performances. Ragsdale will perform Va godendo by Handel, and music from other composers such as Claude Debussy, Henri Duparc and Gian Carlo Menotti. After graduation she plans to continue her education at the University of Mississippi.

Long’s last performance will feature the challenging and beautiful flute solo, Hungarian Pastoral Fantasy by Albert Franz Doppler. The Wayne County High School graduate plans to attend Mississippi State University after graduating from Jones College.

 The following Thursday, April 20, at 7 p.m. in the Foote Chapel, pianist Hanna Grace Wood will be performing her last concert at Jones along with flutist, Kaylea Yates of Ellisville and Katlyn Myrick of Laurel on clarinet. Wood is a piano and voice major whose future plans include attending the University of Southern Mississippi. She will be performing the piano solo from composer, Claude Debussy’s Prélude VIII, La fille aux cheveux de Lin.

South Jones High School graduate, Kaylea Yates’ flute performance pieces include, Andante Pastoral by Paul Taffanel, and composers, Francis Poulenc and Robert Schumann. She plans to continue her education at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Katlyn Myrick’s performance pieces include the B flat clarinet solo by composer, Camille Saint-Saens’ Sonate, Op.167, Allegretto. The Northeast Jones High School graduate plans to transfer to Mississippi State University after graduating from Jones College.

The recitals are free and open to the public. These performances are a part of the sophomore music student’s degree requirements for Jones College. For more information about the JC music program or the sophomore recitals call the Fine Arts department at 601-477-4203.

Kaylea Yates, Hanna Grace Wood & Katlyn Myrick