North Jackson High School teacher Nia Stivers was recently inducted as part of the inaugural class of the Jacksonville State University School of Education Alumni Hall of Fame. She was part of an elite group of 15 educators which included Alabama State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey. Their pictures will hang in the Ramona Wood School of Education.
Stivers found out at the banquet on April 24 that she had been nominated by one of her former teachers at JSU. Gena Christopher, Stivers’s Southern Literature instructor at JSU, choose her for this honor. Christopher is also a sponsor of the JSU Writers Bowl that Stivers has taken students to for several years.
“I felt overwhelmed, teary, and nostalgic for my mom and dad during the ceremony,” said Stivers. Her parents, the late Bea and Jimmy Cox from Bridgeport, never received a college education. “They sacrificed so much to make sure my sister, Valeric Cox-Smith, and I got our education,” she added. “I so wanted to be able to share the moment with them, but maybe they were applauding in heaven.”
“I don’t feel like I do anything special in my classroom,” said Stivers. “I love my students. I respect the lives they live outside of my classroom. I know what they teach me, and I never want to get complacent in giving the best version of myself to them.”
JSU changed the focus of their Teacher Hall of Fame as the campus motto changed to “bringing you back home” following last year’s tornado. Their focus this year was on home.
After the inductees received their Star Award, a separate presentation was made by David Lakin of the Scottish Rite Board of Directors. They have partnered with JSU in supporting the hall of fame for 50 years.
Their focus is on identifying dyslexia in children at an early age. They recognized three of the educators in the inaugural class with a special certificate plus a check for $100. Stivers was one of the three who received this unexpected gift.
Stivers teaches English to seniors and one class of freshmen at North Jackson. She returned to her alma mater last year after teaching for 14 years at North Sand Mountain. She also teaches dual-enrollment English 101 at the high school through Northeast Alabama Community College. She is an evening instructor of GED classes at NACC.
Stivers earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at JSU. She is also a Nationally Board-Certified Teacher.
Stivers and her husband, Jason, reside in Bridgeport. They are active members of the First Baptist Church there and teach a youth group.