by Leslyn Smith

Photo above of Maggie Jefferis by Sonni Pressley 

It was a Tuesday when Maggie Jefferis swung open the door to the old building. The halls of Bailey APAC were dimly lit, the floors slanted, and the then-unfamiliar sound of a metal detector went off as she walked in. There was a faint smell of mildew in the air. She had braided her hair into two little braids, and wore khakis and a white shirt. She carried a new backpack and a white binder filled with paper and a couple of pencils.

It was Jefferis’ first day of public school. She was 12.

Now 16, she grew up in Jackson, Miss., raised by her mother, Tifani Keith. “My parents got a divorce when I was 11, and that was a little bit hard for me,” she says.

Jefferis has one older sister and two younger sisters. She was homeschooled from third grade until her seventh-grade year. She will be a junior at Murrah High School his upcoming year.

She participates on many teams at school including the Base Pair science program and the debate team. “I would love to make it to Nationals in debate,” she says of debate, showing her competitive spirit.

Jefferis loves debate. “It is literally my life. I like that it gives me a platform to speak on while still allowing me the ability to learn,” Jefferis says.

The Murrah High School junior would love to be a teacher when she grows up. “I don’t know yet what I want to teach. It may be Spanish, or Greek or maybe math,” she says.

Jefferis’ seventh-grade teacher, Cheryl Colemanwas her favorite. “Sometimes she felt more like a parent or a friend than a teacher, and I learned a lot from her,” she says.

During this summer at The Youth Media Project, Jefferis would love to make another mini-documentary like the HB 1523 documentary she helped with last summer.  “YMP makes me better at socializing with people. I love video. I love the creative side of everything,” Jefferis says.