Message from the Director

January 2021


Jen Waller


(662) 645-3555 (cell)

Dear Friends of the CCHEC ~

      Happy New Year! What a long, strange year it has been! Our last official e-newsletter went out on March 15th and at that time, we simply said we would be closed about a week due to the pandemic. Little did we know that the pandemic would still be lingering 10 months later!

      So here we are in January 2021. Living in a whole new year and trying to revamp our Center with “a new normal” approach. That mostly means more technology, less in-person activity, and lots of brainstorming on how to nurture this treasured venue while growing it for the future.

      Immediate items on the planning agenda include the 29th Annual MS Delta Tennessee Williams Festival scheduled for October 14-16, 2021; identifying ways to strengthen and expand our Healthy Community Initiative; re-booting our Community Book Talks Lecture Series in new and innovative ways; and a long list of other ideas on the table to discuss. All of this will take a little time to sort through and organize, but what I am most thrilled about today is the return of my bright, enthusiastic assistant, Taylor Armstrong. She is like a breath of fresh air sent from heaven above, and I am so grateful she has returned after having been laid off for 10 long months. Her “to do” list is lengthy like mine, but she tackles it each day like a champion.


Hip, Hip Hooray and Welcome Back to our dear colleague Taylor Shaffett Armstrong!


     In other news, please be sure to check out photos, feedback and programming from the 2020 MS Delta Tennessee Williams Festival that can be found in our Tennessee Williams section below. Despite the pandemic, the festival was an amazing success and mostly because of our wonderful partner, Dr. Matt Foss of the University of Toledo. Matt has been involved with the festival for many years, but joined the MDTWF leadership team this year as Co-director of the festival. His role as the Artistic Director proved to be only one of his many, many talents – which included much needed technology know-how and pandemic survival skills! I am so honored to call Dr. Matt Foss my friend and even more honored to count him again this year as my festival partner.

      And finally, for those of you who are wondering about all of the cars on our parking lot each day, you should know that we have guests utilizing the Lewis Technology Building temporarily. In mid-November, the leaders of PeopleShores reached out to leaders of Coahoma Community College (CCC) and asked for help. PeopleShores needed temporary space so their employees could physically distance during the pandemic. The CCC Administration determined that the Higher Ed Center was the best fit so PeopleShores started utilizing our Center as a temporary space on January 1st. This unique industry will be here at the Higher Ed Center for a few months or more until the pandemic subsides. If interested, you can check out their website for more information about their industry Please note that Coahoma Community College and the Coahoma County Higher Education Center are always happy to address the needs of our community and partner with others to make Clarksdale/Coahoma County stronger.


With highest hopes and best regards,

Jen Waller


Taylor Armstrong

Assistant to the Director

Social Media Manager

(662) 621-9344 (office)

Dear Friends of the CCHEC,

             I am so happy to have finally returned to work after a long hiatus due to the Coronavirus Pandemic! Over the past 10 months, I spent time at home with my 2 1/2 year old son, Tripp, making memories I will cherish for a lifetime! I also enjoyed quality time with family and friends, celebrated many birthdays and anniversaries and to top everything off my small family moved into a new home! Of course when my break was coming to an end, my husband, son and I all contracted  the Coronavirus it was scary at times but we are grateful that we were able to push through! 

            Since my return at the CCHEC, I have been busy creating our social media accounts, updating our website and getting everything organized in the main office! Jen and I have finally reunited and have had so many exciting things to catch up on we are happy to have our little team back together again! We have many future plans for the CCHEC/Cutrer Mansion and we can't wait to share those with you!

            A lot has happened this month! We were blessed with a winter snowfall in Clarksdale and the view of the Cutrer Mansion was beautiful! Rev. John Cutrer Smith, grandson of Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Cutrer, celebrated his 97th birthday on the 13th of this month Rev. Smith is the last living person who lived in the Cutrer Mansion when it was still a private residence. We also recognized Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday and his fight for equality.  

             I will be working Monday through Wednesday 8:30am-4:30pm in the main office in the Cutrer. Please email me or call the office if there is anything you need and feel free to stop by anytime to say hello!

Have a great week! 

Taylor Armstrong