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Sister Recognition


Jackson County educator Nia Stivers (Rho, II) was presented her Star Award as she was inducted into the Jacksonville State University School of Education Hall of Fame.  Making the presentation was Dr. Tommy Turner, dean of the School of Education at JSU. 

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.


Article written by Peggy M. Himburg (Rho, II) for the Jackson County Sentinel. Permission granted.


Lauren Lackey (Rho, II), a Pre-K teacher at Woodville Elementary School in Woodville, AL, was honored by Fox 54 WZDX as the Valley's top teacher. She was nominated by a parent, but does not know which one and was honored that this parent took the time to nominate her.

Article and photo by Peggy M. Himburg (Rho, II) for the Jackson County Sentinel. Permission granted.

Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education has accepted Ms. Amy C. Crew (Pi, V) into the New and Aspiring Leaders program. Ms. Crew will attend for professional development in the fall working with a cohort of emerging leaders to unpack common leadership challenges, clarifying a vision of an effective school, establishing core values, developing the foundational skills of an effective school leader, improving instruction for all learners through effective teacher supervision and evaluation, fostering a culture of improvement and collaboration among faculty and learning to leverage time and resources to maximize student achievement.


Ana Carolina Behel (Gamma Chi, I), an English language-development teacher and Delta Kappa Gamma member who works at Weeden Elementary school in Florence, Alabama, was named 2019-2020 Alabama Teacher of the Year during an awards ceremony on May 8, 2019 in Montgomery, Alabama.

The honor makes her Alabama’s nominee for National Teacher of the Year, and Behel will spend most of the year being an ambassador for the state’s education system and presenting at workshops.

“I am so honored and thankful for this opportunity to represent the Great State of Alabama as the 2019-2020 State Teacher of the Year,” she said in a statement. Behel said she was inspired to become a teacher because she wanted to share her love of learning, languages, diversity, and cultures with others. Her goal is to make learning an enjoyable experience that allows students a safe place to grow and become leaders of their own learning.


Leslie Hughes is a first grade teacher at Walter M. Kennedy Elementary in Pell City, Alabama, where she was selected as the 2018-19 Teacher of the Year and advanced to the Final Four for the 2019-20 Alabama Teacher of the Year.  As a National Board Certified Teacher, she is committed to ensuring a world-class education for all learners with an emphasis on developing problem solving, critical thinking, emotional and social skills, and social justice. She has a passion for promoting student agency and developing students’ identity as learners.  She founded the WMK Robotics Club and Writing Club and tutors after school to provide students with access to additional learning opportunities. In addition, Ms. Hughes supports colleagues who seek to hone their craft by pursuing National Board Certification in her work as a Candidate Support Provider with four mentoring groups across the state.  She is an AMSTI (Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative) trainer and enjoys partnering with her Regional Inservice Center as a leader and a learner. Ms. Hughes has taught first and third grade and enjoys collaborating with her grade level colleagues and the Exceptional Education team to help every young mind reach their full potential. She is President of the Delta Omicron chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, an international society of key women educators.  In her free time, Ms. Hughes enjoys spending time with her two pups, Roseanna and Ally, and playing in the woods whenever she can.

Updated on May 21, 2019