Art Professor Carrie Reeves Crafted Leigh Anne Ward Teachers Memorial
May 14, 2013
A magnificent sculpture dedicated on Mother’s Day at Madison-Ridgeland Academy serves as a lasting tribute to the late Leigh Anne Ward, an outstanding educator who exemplified God’s love.
Mississippi College art professor Carrie Reeves crafted the memorial with its fountain, textbooks, school children and image of the beloved MRA teacher who faithfully served for a dozen years.
A computer teacher at the private school in Madison, Ward was tragically killed following an automobile accident on August 17, 2010. She died in a Jackson hospital at age 35.
At Sunday’s dedication ceremonies, the Mississippian was remembered as a woman of God who cherished her parents and brought joy into the lives of her students, colleagues and friends. The Jackson native taught Sunday School classes to five-year-old children at Broadmoor Baptist Church and stayed involved in projects to better her community.
Ceremonies to dedicate the Leigh Anne Ward Teachers Memorial brought out hundreds of members of the MRA family as well as distinguished artists including Sam Gore, who taught Reeves and her father at Mississippi College.
“She was one of my treasured students,” Gore said of Reeves.
Madison-Ridgeland Academy leaders also showered her with praise.
“This was a blessing to us,” said MRA Board of Trustees President Roxanne Case as she thanked the young Mississippi College art professor at the dedication amid splendid sunshine.
Her extraordinary work captured the true essence of what Leigh Anne Ward was about as a talented educator and caring person, said Clinton artist Wyatt Waters. “She was a sweet gal. This was a tragic loss.” Her sculpture, with its running waters, he said, was “really beautiful. I like the fact you can walk around it, and see the notes on top.”
Stuart Lassetter was delighted to be on hand for the unveiling of the latest work by his daughter, Carrie. “I’m real proud of what she’s done and used it to honor someone like Leigh Anne Ward.”
A Mississippi College graduate, like his wife, Nancy, Lassetter said Carrie Reeves worked hard on the project and received God’s help along the way. “The Lord inspired her,” said the retired college biology teacher and missionary who lives in Clinton.
Thanking her MC teachers like Dr. Gore and family members, Carrie Reeves said she received an assist from her husband, Braden, who served as the project’s engineer.
The May 12 sculpture dedication on the Madison campus included the installation of Madison-Ridgeland Academy’s first class of Hall of Fame teachers. Inducted were Ward, Frances Braswell, Minnie Lou Holland and Myra Smith.
Giving the invocation, Mississippi Baptist Convention Board Executive Director Jim Futral recalled he served as Ward’s pastor when she was a young girl growing up in the Magnolia State. Life holds the “promise that we will be with her once again,” he reminded the audience.
MRA elementary and middle school students sang “Amazing Grace” as part of the Sunday afternoon program. School headmaster Tommy Thompson assisted Ward family members at the sculpture’s ribbon cutting.
Following the dedication, Reeves was overjoyed with the response to the sculpture she created.
“Many said they thought the sculpture fountain is just the right thing for her memorial - that it represents her lively personality and vocation very well,” Reeves said. “To know that those who knew Leigh Anne and to know that Dr. and Mrs. Ward are pleased with the sculpture makes my heart glad!”
Reeves loved seeing children gazing at the fountain, talking about it, asking questions and touching the new landmark on the Madison campus.
“I do give the credit, as always, to God, the ultimate Artist, for artistic inspiration,” said the Mississippi College professor.
A 1993 graduate of Jackson Academy in Mississippi’s capital city, Ward was named to “Who’s Who” of American High School Students. An excellent student, she received a leadership scholarship to attend Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina where she graduated in 1997. That put Leigh Anne Ward on the path to become a teacher.
The daughter of Dr. Frazier and Bobbie Gooch Ward, the MRA educator earned a master’s degree at Belhaven University in 2000. Teaching wasn’t just a job to her. Leigh Anne Ward really enjoyed working with children.
Photo: MC art professor Carrie Reeves standing beside Leigh Anne Ward Memorial at Madison-Ridgeland Academy.