Jean Allgood's lifelong service to educating students in Mississippi and around the world is remembered and celebrated through a scholarship endowment at The University of Southern Mississippi.
Established with an initial gift of $15,000, the endowment has already provided scholarships to two Golden Eagles studying music education. With the addition of a planned gift, the net proceeds of which total over $98,000, the annual scholarship allocation will increase six-fold to support deserving students.
As the daughter of a 12th grade English teacher, Allgood inherited her passion for teaching and pursued her bachelor's degree in education at Mississippi Southern College, now The University of Southern Mississippi. With great excitement about beginning her career, Allgood was one of the youngest students to graduate from Southern Miss at the age of 20 and began teaching in Ellisville.
For the next 30 years, "Miz Allgood," as she was called by her students, had a fiery focus on teaching, entertaining and evangelizing whomever was fortunate enough to be in her classroom, her audience or her presence. Beloved by many who entered her classroom, students still note that Mrs. Allgood taught about good morals, good habits and good behavior with extremely high expectations and outcomes for her scholars.
"Mother spent her life giving people a reason to learn," said Allgood's daughter, Derrith Bondurant. "She was determined to make everyone interested in learning and instilled motivation that could be used in all areas of life."
After her retirement from Gulfport City Schools, she still held a desire to teach and participate in mission work. This desire led Allgood to Seattle, upstate New York and several Caribbean Islands to teach with the The Southern Baptist Convention. Later, she ventured to Baptist posts in Switzerland, Venezuela and Puerto Rico, where she did administrative work, led Bible schools and entertained by playing piano and singing.
A longing for international missions eventually led Allgood to China with a group of English teachers. When the Mission Board would no longer send her abroad because of age restrictions, she made her own arrangements directly with Guangxi University in Nanning, China, to continue the good work she had begun. Her Chinese students, both children and adult professionals, became her life, and in 2004 Allgood was made an honorary citizen.
After 21 years of teaching on four continents and in 11 countries spanning the globe, a disheartening discovery of breast cancer brought Allgood's trips abroad to a halt. Although a desire to return to China deeply dwelled in her heart, she found new mission fields at home in Mississippi and began volunteering as a tutor in local schools and entertaining residents of nursing homes, veterans homes and churches.
Allgood was designated a Regional Mississippi Ageless Hero in 2000 and was recognized by Governor Haley Barbour as a "role model for people of all ages everywhere" for her "inspirational achievements and exceptional humanitarian contributions to educating children."
Although Allgood will be greatly missed by her family, friends, students and community, her good work will continue through the Agnes and Joseph "Bud" Hillman Scholarship Endowment, established in 2013 to honor her parents. In addition to celebrating her parents' memory, the endowment will also honor Allgood's inspirational dedication to educating children by providing the gift of education to students in perpetuity at Southern Miss.
"I can remember my mother saying, ‘If you still have money in your pockets, you can still give,'" Bondurant said. "She understood that even when some students are doing the best they can, they still need help from all of us. If she were alive today, she'd be telling us to give to education, too."
What's Your Southern Miss Passion?
You can follow in Jean Allgood's footsteps and invest in Southern Miss students. Contact Daniel Barton at 601.266.6428 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about your giving options.