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Canton Public School District mourns loss of beloved teacher killed in car crash

Tyra Small-Jackson was named Teacher of the Year for the 2023-24 academic year at Nicholls Middle School in Canton. She was killed in a car crash on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of the Canton Public School District)

Students, faculty, and staff at Nicholls Middle School in Canton are mourning the death of Tyra Small-Jackson.

Small-Jackson, 48, was killed during a wrong-way crash on Interstate 55 in Gluckstadt on Saturday afternoon. The other driver, who was driving on the wrong side of the roadway, has been identified as Jordan Sullivan, 32, of Louisville. Sullivan was charged with aggravated DUI with those charges expected to be upgraded following the death of Small-Jackson.

In a statement, the Canton Public School District said Small-Jackson was “a loving and dedicated educator in the district who will be sorely missed in our community.” Small-Jackson had been teaching for 23 years prior to her death, most recently being honored as Nichols Middle School’s 2023-2024 Teacher of the Year.

“We extend our condolences and heartfelt sympathy to the family of Mrs. Tyra Small-Jackson. Our thought and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time,” another portion of the statement reads. “Her beautiful spirit will forever live on in the memory and the heart and of countless lives she touched. We are thankful for Mrs. Small-Jackson’s years of distinguished service to the Canton Public School District. She dedicated her life to making sure her students felt loved and prepared for the next level. She will be truly missed.”

Small-Jackson, after graduating top three from Canton High School in 1994, continued her education at Belhaven College in Jackson. She then returned to the school district she grew up in and taught different subjects across fifth, sixth, and eighth grades. While serving as a teacher at Nicholls, she received her master’s degree in elementary education at Jackson State University.

The decorated teacher will be laid to rest sometime in the coming weeks. Funeral arrangements have not been announced at this time. Small-Jackson’s biography via the Canton Public School District ends with the following words: “Mrs. Small-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.”

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