On Thursday, May 7, a parade of Jacqueline “Jackie” Collinsworth’s co-workers, friends and family cruised through the Haraway Center portico on Northwest Mississippi Community College’s Senatobia campus to offer a wave, a smile and some heartfelt well-wishes. Visitors showered the honoree with cards, balloons and gifts to commemorate her upcoming retirement.
Collinsworth, a history instructor at Northwest, has announced her retirement after a career spanning more than 46 years as part of the Northwest family. Though her colleagues planned a different, more traditional type of send-off, the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to get creative.
An alumna of Northwest, Collinsworth graduated from the college in 1970 with an Associate of Arts in education. She went on to spend a semester at Christian Brothers College, where she was among an elite group of women who were the first females to be admitted to the school. She transferred to The University of Mississippi, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in education. Finally, she enrolled at Memphis State University, where she received a Master of Arts in teaching in 1973.
Collinsworth is the daughter of James Jackson and Mildred Dodson Perry of Horn Lake and the niece of former Northwest instructor Bob Perry of Southaven. She married Emmett William Collinsworth in 1974, and subsequently joined the faculty of what was then Northwest Mississippi Junior College in the Social Science Department, offering courses in government, western civilization and American history.
In her years with Northwest, Collinsworth has proven to be a hard worker and a team player. She was one of the initial instructors who volunteered to teach evening courses during the establishment of the DeSoto Center campus in its previous location on Northwest Drive in Southaven. She also served as faculty adviser to Sigma Tau Sigma Society and coordinated the campus Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), receiving certificates of achievement and meritorious service from both the Third ROTC Region and the Department of the Army in 1978.
Additionally, Collinsworth has served as the chairperson of the Hall of Fame Committee, was selected to attend the Lamplighter Conference, which recognizes the best teachers in the Mississippi community college system, has served on the Athletic Committee for more than a decade, and was the first instructor to offer a 7 a.m. class and a 2:30 p.m. class. She has served under five Northwest presidents.
Collinsworth has also served as requested on committees of grievance, arbitration and appeal, and has worked with Disability Support Services and served as co-adviser for the Criminal Justice Division. In addition, she has been a big proponent of Northwest athletics, cheering her students on from the stands.
“I tried to participate in as many events as possible,” Collinsworth said. “I wanted my students to know I supported them.”
She received the first President’s Award for Customer Service at Northwest in 2008, the Educator of the Year Award from the Tate County Economic Development Foundation in 2011 and was named Northwest’s 2011 Alumna of the Year.
“Jackie has a remarkable work ethic and willingness to help her students,” said Kristin Watson, director of Social Science Instruction. “She is a staple of Northwest. Being here over 46 years, she has taught the children of many of her students. One of the most noteworthy comments from former students is that they are glad she has their child because she is such a good and kind teacher. She is such a sweet lady, and her presence will be missed on campus, from the classroom to the stands of athletic events.”
From spending time on campus with her uncle as a young person, to attending Northwest as a student, to joining the faculty right out of graduate school and remaining for the duration of her career, the impact that Northwest has had on Collinsworth’s life cannot be overstated.
“I have always loved Northwest, and will continue to support the college in retirement,” she said. “I have one bit of advice for incoming students: make the most of the opportunities you have at Northwest. It doesn’t get any better than this.”