“Coach.” “Dad.” “Uncle.” These are the names that Ronald Nixon’s student call him and it’s not hard to see why. To many, he is seen as a father figure. To almost all his students, he’s seen as a hero.
Nixon, who is a health and physical education teacher, head basketball coach, and assistant football coach at Northeastern High School in Elizabeth City, shows up to school every day with an excited, infectious energy. As a coach, he reinforces the idea of “work hard, play hard” on his team. The care he shows for his students can be seen beyond the field and court.
“”Hero” is just a small portion of what he is to these kids,” said Lea McMannen, a parent at the school. “Coach Nixon is someone they will never forget. Even now students he taught or coached years ago still come back just to see him and say thank you.”
Nixon shows remarkable dedication to his students and their parents, his community, and to creating a safe space for his students to grow and excel. These are a few of the many reasons he was chosen by the N.C. Education Lottery as a N.C. School Hero.
“I feel honored and it’s very exciting. This honor is not just for me, but for our community and all the people who do so much to support it,” said Nixon. My assignment from God is to build relationships with these kids and teach them life skills to meet life’s challenges. I challenge them every day, every single day.”
The Education Lottery created the N.C. School Heroes program to showcase the positive impacts teachers, principals, and other school workers have in public schools every day. From 6,000 nominations, ten heroes were chosen with each receiving a $10,000 award and $10,000 for their school.
The school declared Friday “Coach Ronald Nixon Day” and students wore school colors, green and gold, to mark the day. The entire student body, led by the school band, filled the gym for the celebration. They were joined by Nixon’s colleagues at the school, members of the Pasquotank County School Board, Elizabeth City Mayor Betty Parker, and Nixon’s family. All cheered and clapped as their hero received his award.
“There are thousands of heroes like Ronald Nixon doing amazing work in our public schools,” said Mark Michalko, executive director of the N.C. Education Lottery. “Teachers, cafeteria workers, custodians, school resource officers, all make a big difference for our students every day. We’re glad our School Heroes program shines a spotlight on their great work.”
Money raised by the lottery assists many of those School Heroes, including $386 million this year that supports the work of school support staff such as office assistants and custodians. Additional money will help build and repair schools, support the N.C. Pre-K program for “at-risk” four-year-olds, provide college scholarships and grants based on financial need, and help meet school transportation needs. For details on how lottery funds made a difference in Pasquotank County, click on the “Impact” section of the lottery’s website, www.nclottery.com