Jefferson College in Washington, Mississippi Lesson Plan

Karla Smith


Jefferson College, Mississippi’s first institute of higher learning, opened in 1811. The site chosen for the establishment of this now historic school was Washington, the capital of the Mississippi Territory. Over its one-hundred-and-fifty-three-year history as an institute of learning, Jefferson College struggled with lack of financial support and student enrollment. Even though the school was forced to close in 1964, Jefferson College continues its legacy of learning through its museum, buildings, and grounds.


Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1, 3 and 4.


Grades 7 through 12



The students will:

  • Identify significant events in the history of Jefferson College.
  • Create an advertisement for Jefferson College.
  • Compare and contrast Jefferson College with today’s educational institutions.


The teacher will ask for student volunteers to name Mississippi’s institutions of higher education. The student responses can be recorded on the whiteboard. The teacher will ask the students which one of the institutions was the first to be established in Mississippi. At this point, the teacher will tell the students that Jefferson College no longer functions as a school, but it was the first institute of higher education established in Mississippi and over the next several days they will have an opportunity to learn more about this historic school.


  1. Have students draw a two-column chart in their notebooks. In the left column, have students list the following historical periods:
    • Territorial
    • Early Statehood
    • Civil War
    • Post Civil War
    • 20th Century
  2. Once completed with the left column, have students list in the right column the key events in the history of Jefferson College that occurred in each historical period. In order to complete the chart, students should use the Mississippi History Now article to identify the key events. Students can work with a partner or independently on this portion of the lesson plan.
  3. Once the historical period charts are completed, the teacher will facilitate class discussion by asking student volunteers to share information from their charts.
  4. Place students in groups of three or four. Tell students that they have been hired by the Board of Trustees at Jefferson College to create an advertising campaign to increase student enrollment at Jefferson College. Let students be creative in their approach. They can create a brochure, a flier, or public event to assist the college with its drive to increase enrollment. Students should stay within the historical time frame for their approach.
  5. Once the projects are complete, students should share their work with the class.


To close the lesson, ask students to compare and contrast the practices and procedures of their school with that of Jefferson College. The teacher can place a Venn diagram on the whiteboard in order to record student responses.


  1. Chart of historical periods
  2. Advertising campaign project
  3. Class discussion


  • Research institutions of higher learning or private schools in Mississippi.
  • Research famous students and key people that played a part in the history of Jefferson College.