Harriet Elizabeth Harbour Jackson

Harriet Elizabeth Harbour Jackson


Dr. Harriet Elizabeth Harbour Jackson of Preston, passed away peacefully February 12, 2024, at St. Dominic’s Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi. Visitation was held on February 14, 2024, from 5:00-8:00 pm at McClain-Hays Funeral Home. Funeral Services were held on February 15, 2024, at 1:00 pm in the chapel at McClain-Hays Funeral Home with interment at Hailey-Richey Cemetery.

Beth, 71, was born June 15,1952, in Meridian, MS, to R.A. and Edna Harbour. She attended Scooba Elementary and graduated from Dekalb High School in 1970. She earned bachelor’s, masters’, specialist’s and doctoral degrees from Mississippi State University all in the field of education.

Dr. Jackson’s love for early childhood development, particularly reading, has inspired countless students and teachers over the past five decades. Victor Hugo once said, “To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” Beth loved to ignite that spark. Watching and helping children read was her calling.

She started her career in 1974, teaching first grade in Shannon, MS. In 1977, she was chosen by Mr. George McLean, the owner/editor of the Tupelo Daily Journal, to pilot a new program that sought to put teachers’ aides in first grade classes in Lee County. This was soon introduced to Former Governor William Winter and the Mississippi Legislature. The program eventually included kindergarten and second grade and would strengthen school achievement at the earliest grade. This assistant teacher program was the model from which the Education Reform Act of 1982 was created. Dr. Jackson piloted this influential program and this allowed her to fall in love with teaching. That love continued to spread through many private and public schools, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, and tens of thousands of children over the next 50 years.

Beth taught in Lee County public schools as well as Kemper County, Kemper Academy, West Lauderdale, and the MBCI. After teaching in elementary and junior high, she then found her way into administration, where she became Elementary Principal of West Lauderdale and Neshoba Central. She was also appointed Assistant Superintendent for Neshoba County. She ended her career at Mississippi State University, where she was Senior consultant of PREPS and Director of the Writing and Thinking Institute. Throughout her career, she wrote countless grants that helped expand possibilities for Mississippi’s children.

Beth was also very active at Coy Community Church, where she has been a member for over 40 years. She was a choir member, director, organist and a leader of children’s church. She was a long time member of Delta Kappa Gamma as well as many other civic organizations. Beth loved people and interacting with people of all walks of life. She enjoyed Broadway plays, music, and the symphony orchestra, especially the cello and piano. She could attend a Broadway play one night and could help Tommy feed the cows or pull a calf out of the ditch the next morning and be just as happy. 

She married the love of her life, Tommy, in 1971, in the chapel at Mississippi State University. As they were both graduates from there, it was only appropriate. They had no idea over the next 52 years, how much love and time they would spend rooting on the Bulldogs. She and Tommy were season ticket holders to baseball, football and basketball and rarely missed a home game. The two of them loved to travel and even attended the Final Four, College World Series, and every bowl game supporting the college they love.

Beth is survived by her husband, Tommy Jackson, daughters Jennifer (Chad) Bond and Leigh (Jesse) Yates, grandchildren  Thomas, Katherine, and Henry Yates, sister Olivia Reese, and sister in law Jane (Gene) Livingston.

Beth is preceded in death by her father R.A. Harbour, mother Edna Brown Harbour Holloway Ford.

Pallbearers: Chad Bond, Jesse Yates, Tim Livingston. Bowen Flowers, Jefferson Gilder, Rhett Hailey, and Gene Cliburn 

Memorials may be made to the Hailey-Richey Cemetery Fund or to the charity of your choice.

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