Recruiter helps the creative find their way to MSA

Published 10:19 am Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Movies like “Fame” and shows like Fox’s Glee do their best to try and capture the life of high school students who live their lives among the arts. Hallways, classrooms and cafeterias littered with 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds bursting to the brim with musical and visual artistic talent and the optimism of youth; a random note here, a splash of color there. One can just imagine what it’d be like to attend a school as such.



John Mauney, who goes by Recruiter John, works in admissions at the Mississippi School of Arts and travels around the state offering insight into what it is like to attend school at MSA.

“It’s always electric,” he said.

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Mauney grew up in the Jackson area and, after attending Holmes Community College, studied finance at Delta State University. Between graduating from Delta State and recruiting for MSA, Mauney worked in finance and with a mock youth legislature program at YMCA.

Mauney’s history in the arts dates back to his childhood when his mother would ensure that he and his siblings gained extensive exposure to the arts in America.

“She would take us to art museums. She’d make sure we went to plays and shows,” Mauney said.

“She made sure we kind of had our own art school,” Mauney said.

Of course, his mother made sure her children were doing well academically but she also made sure they knew names of artists and their work as well.

Mauney said his background in art, though it may be limited, is nice knowledge to have in case a student has a question. He’s been brushing up to feel more confident.

“It’s one of those things that you sometimes dislike growing up but now you say ‘Thank you, mom’,” Mauney said.

Recruiter John works along with Jennifer Jackson who is the Coordinator of School Advancement at MSA. Mauney’s been working there for a year and three months and likes his job.

“It’s like professional play,” Mauney said. “I go into the high schools and have a lunch booth or break booth. I tell students it’s not just about the academics its also a social experience.”

Mauney said since a lot of the state’s school programs are getting cut there is usually a lot of excitement when he visits schools.

“Of course there are those who aren’t interested and some I end up pointing to MSMS,” Mauney said.

MSMS, the Mississippi School for Math and Science, is another of the state’s residential high school programs for talented and gifted students interested in the science, technology, engineering or math fields.

Upon successful recruitment into the school, Mauney’s approach is more hands-off.

“I try to let them do their own thing,” He said. “You get them here and give them room to find out what they want to do.”

Amidst all of this excitement Mauney feels that seeing the students grow over two short years is most rewarding.

“A student as a junior and then as a senior is like night and day. Watching them perform at Junior Preview then at Senior Preview is like watching two different performances.”

This is important because it’s a goal of MSA to give their students a one or two year head start into college programs.

“I feel like I stumbled into pure luck,” Mauney said about his job.

Mauney and the rest of MSA invite anyone interested to the school’s Experience MSA Day on Nov. 1. There will be two sessions, one at 8 a.m. and one at 11 a.m., where parents. Guardians can come and see if MSA is something for their student.

 MSA disciplines include:

• Dance

• Literary Arts

• Theatre Arts

• Visual Arts

• Vocal Arts