The USJ Alumni Association is an active organization with the mission of helping alumni and their parents keep close ties with their alma mater. USJ Alumni are always welcome back to campus. Keep us up to date on new contact information, weddings, babies and career news!
USJ’s extensive fine arts program begins in the Lower School with visual arts and music enrichment classes. Starting in Jr. Kindergarten, classes stage annual musical productions. The visual arts department challenges our students’ artistic talents and showcases them throughout our school and the community through art exhibits and competitions.
The athletic program at University School of Jackson is a member of TSSAA’s Division II, one of the strongest in the state of Tennessee. USJ’s Middle and Upper Schools currently field 37 teams in 13 different sports.
Founded in 1970, University School of Jackson is an independent school that creates a foundation for life-long learning. From the developmental curriculum in the infant and toddler program to the Advanced Placement courses in the Upper School, USJ focuses on the needs of the individual student, providing the environment and opportunity for each student to develop his or her potential in academics, athletics, fine arts, and leadership.
University School of Jackson is a non-denominational, non-sectarian, college preparatory school dedicated to academic excellence and to the founding principles of faith, service, and scholarship. Our mission is to instill a passion in our students for academic, artistic, and athletic excellence, while committing themselves to personal integrity, mutual respect, and lifelong learning.
XStuart Hirstein officially became a part of USJ on July 1, 2013. He is an experienced educator who spent the last seven years working at an independent school in Hawaii.
Since 2005, Hirstein has been associate headmaster at Island Pacific Academy, an independent, pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade school with 650 students in Kapolei, Hawaii. He served as the institution’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer, was responsible for the school’s day-to-day operations, and was chief mediator for employee and parent issues.
He also served as the school’s academic department chair and was responsible for recruiting faculty and...
Assistant to the Head of School and Director of Summer Programs
XMelissa Zerfoss received a bachelor of business administration degree in management from the University of Mississippi. She has worked for many years as a Human Resources Administrator for several Fortune 500 companies, such as Georgia Pacific and Toro. She also has worked in office administration for the City of Olympia, Washington.
“My goal in this position is to work hard to build a productive and positive relationship with each student, parent, faculty, and staff member.”
She and her husband, Matt, a1990 USJ graduate, have two sons, Nick and Zach.
XBenjamin Murphy is a veteran educator who is committed to students and their education, and he wants them to take responsibility for their learning.
Murphy, who joined USJ in July 2014, said he was impressed with the focus and dedication among teachers, administrators, and students. “I really like the atmosphere and the energy at USJ. Everyone has a definite sense of purpose.”
He has a bachelor’s degree in history and German from the University of Notre Dame and a master's degree in history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Murphy came to USJ from Island...
XLisa Cates, Lower School Secretary, graduated from North Side High School and attended West Tennessee Business College.
She joined the staff at Old Hickory Academy (OHA) as the Upper School Secretary in the Fall of 1984. After the merger of OHA and EDS to form USJ, she later became the Secretary at the Lower School.
Mrs. Cates and her husband, Robert, have one child at USJ, Carrie, in the eighth grade. She has two children who graduated from USJ. Jennifer Cash Biggs, class of 1993, who lives in Hawaii with her husband, Chris, and their two sons; and Russ Cash, class of 1998,...
XSylvia Bell is the Receptionist for the Lower School. She has worked for more than 20 years at the Lower School.
A graduate of South Side High School, Mrs. Bell received her bachelor's degree from Union University. She also did graduate work at the University of Memphis. Before working at USJ, Mrs. Bell taught language arts and was senior advisor at Medina High School in Gibson County.
She and Gerald, her husband, have one child Gerard, who is a graduate of USJ.
XMark Burden, a certified public accountant with 25 years of experience in accounting and regulatory leadership, joined USJ as chief financial officer in July 2014.
Since 1997, Burden served as director of Accounting and Regulatory Affairs at the Carroll County Electrical Department where he managed customer service, IT, accounting, billing, and collections. He also managed savings investments of $1 million during a seven-year period for future capital projects while enhancing employee benefits.
He became a certified public accountant in 1992 and worked as an analyst for the Tennessee Public Service Commission until he joined Carroll County. Before that, he was a credit manager for Shaw...
XJack Peel, facilities director, is the varsity baseball coach. In his first year of coaching at USJ, the baseball team won a state championship.
Peel, the former University of Memphis baseball standout, most recently served as the Director of Football Operations at Arkansas State University. At ASU, he helped guide the football team to the 2011 Sun Belt Conference Championship and to the 2012 GoDaddy.com Bowl.
In addition to his work with the ASU football program, Peel has coached on the collegiate level for 12 years including stops at the University of Memphis, Lyon College, Trevecca Nazarene University, and Lambuth University.
XCathy moved to Jackson in 1990 to accept the position of Market Development Director with The Jackson Sun, where she worked for 25 years. She and her husband, Charlie, have two children, Anna and Alex, both of whom are USJ graduates. Cathy is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in journalism with a public relations concentration. Cathy is a graduate of Leadership Jackson and has served on the Leadership Jackson Board of Directors. She was the recipient of the Harbert Alexander Award for Servant Leadership in 2004. She also served on the...
XFaith has been a part of the USJ family for almost 6 years. She served as the assistant director of the After School Care program for 2 years before becoming the Director in Fall 2010. Faith also serves as our Camp Bruins director.
Faith has spent the last 20 years working in her field. Before joining us here at USJ, Faith spent seven years teaching in the South Pacific.
XLaura Moore has been an educator for over 20 years, and she is in her fifteenth year at USJ. She has taught fourth grade, second grade, and was also the School Counselor at the Lower School.
Mrs. Moore has a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from the University of Mississippi and a Master's of Education with a License in School Counseling from Freed-Hardeman University.
Outside of the classroom, she enjoys spending time with her family. She and her husband, Baker, have two children. Walker is in tenth grade at USJ,...