I am convinced that every young person dreams of leaving their hometown, going to a larger city, and making it “big.” That was definitely a dream of mine. Born in Memphis, I moved to Jackson with my family at the age of four. Jackson is my mother’s hometown. This is when my understanding of what made living in Jackson special began.
My siblings and I were in a childcare program, and Jackson Parks and Recreation’s summer program is where I met many friends. I had incredible instructors who had such a passion for working with kids that I literally thought one of the instructors was a family member though she wasn’t. My brother, sister, and I could not wait to go to camp and then get home to play outside and do the same crafts, activities, and games we learned at camp. There were several windows broken as we attempted to play baseball in the driveway. (I hadn’t discovered basketball at this point, and thank goodness I did.) We thought Jackson was so fun because my mother did a fantastic job of keeping us involved in church, community programs, and free activities that allowed us to meet many people and explore Jackson, what I call a hidden jewel.
Being educated in our local school system and growing up in Mother Liberty CME Church share the platform as the foundation for my development as a person. My grandmother and my entire family placed a very high emphasis on living a Christ-centered life, loving people, and attempting to understand and appreciate God’s goodness. It was important to my grandmother to celebrate God’s greatest creation: people. She believed we were all the same despite our unique characteristics.
The Jackson-Madison County public school system allowed me the opportunity to do just that, and I learned a lot about myself, other people, and their backgrounds as well. I remember having great teachers who were very strict but loving at the same time, with most of whom I still have a relationship. It seems like yesterday that Mrs. Wright was my second grade teacher taking my baseball cards because I was not paying attention. I was convinced I had a Babe Ruth or Mickey Mantle card in that pack. (Surely I didn’t. Ha.)
Mrs. Amy Parker and Glenn Fesmire were two of the nicest and most encouraging teachers I had in middle school. Ms. Hurd, Mrs. Warren, and Mrs. Voss were high school teachers who were masters in their subject areas, teaching with passion. I will never forget the conversations I had with my chorus teacher, Mr. Tom Grant. He was such an impactful instructor that he convinced me to sing, even though I knew I was horrible. All of these special individuals were pieces to the puzzle that made my childhood experience in Jackson great.
After high school, I was afforded the opportunity to play basketball in college on scholarship. Spring Hill College was my residence for the next four years. The experience playing basketball and being away from the ordinary was fun, but there was still nothing like home.
After college I was going to play basketball overseas, however the deal changed, and so did my mind. My son was born, and my priorities changed. After teaching one year and starting my business, D'TOP Roofing and Repair, I had a whole new perspective of what my next five years would be like. Being somewhere familiar and having that hometown support were essential to my survival as a young businessman.
Jackson has become a place of incredible potential in my mind. Once I started looking out the window of the world wondering what the big city was like, I was able to appreciate what was right in front of me. The growth of downtown Jackson and other areas has continued to make Jackson special to me. I feel like the best is yet to come for the city, and I am glad to be here and be a part.
Pierre DuVentre is a graduate of North Side High School and Spring Hill College and now owns D'TOP Roofing and Repair. He is also part of the Jackson Downtown Development Committee and will function as Vice Chair of Leadership Jackson this fall.