Our Great American All-Star this year is Callison Richardson who hails from Columbia, South Carolina.  She and her husband Jay came to our area when he accepted a job as Assistant Professor of History and Director of The Honors Program at William Carey University.  She received her undergraduate degree from Clemson University and Masters in Public Administration from The University of Georgia. 

Callison has served in the capacity of Principal for the United Christian Academy in Hattiesburg for the last 3 years.  This unique school which is located in the old Presbyterian Christian School location on Lincoln Road, (space donated by the Woodland Presbyterian Church), is based on Christian principles and thrives on volunteerism.  The school started with 7 students from low income families and stemmed from a backyard ministry by Mr. Jack Kennedy to reach children living in poverty.  Callison has worked tirelessly to help create an environment for the current and future students so they receive the best possible educational experience from a school which is funded by, local churches, individual private donations and a small grant from United Way of Southeast Mississippi. 

Extraordinary efforts on the part of the small administration, staff and over 70 volunteers have grown the student population to 18 young people.   There are some heartwarming stories about the results of this unique school model that Callison has shared with us.  One such story is of a student who came into the school reading far below her 4th grade level and now as a 7th grader is reading on a 9th grade level.  What a testament to this young student’s willingness to learn and to her teachers and mentors in preparing her for higher education and a productive life. 

Volunteers come and cook breakfast and lunch in the school kitchen daily or stock the freezer with homemade meals.  Another big help with meals this past year was provided by Christian services and Give and Take Kitchen.  It is the volunteers who partner to make UCA run smoothly.  They not only prep meals but mentor, tutor and provide extracurricular classes including P.E., art, drama, rocket building, community service and cooking.  One special partnership is William Carey University’s CAREY ABOUT ART PROGRAM. 

Callison has been a fierce supporter of this wonderful educational ministry, often driving the school van to pick up the children to begin their school day.  This young energetic woman has a heart for service and the skills to make things happen!  We are proud to name her as our Great American All-Star for 2019.  Congratulations Callison and wherever life leads you we know you will make a positive difference.