Kiwanis honors Nichols as COY

Published 1:30 am Tuesday, December 16, 2014


A local principal’s “heart for children” was cited as one of the reasons he was named the 2014 Kiwanis Club Citizen of the Year, but he credits the teachers for his success.

“The real winners of this award are the teachers of Covington County,” Pleasant Home Principal Craig Nichols said. “They work with the children daily. They help them to grow, not only in education, but all the other little things that they bring to school every day.

“I accept this on behalf of all the teachers at Pleasant Home, and those in Covington County,” he said. “I wake up every morning and I say ‘thank God for our systems in Covington County.’”

Lesa Syler nominated Nichols, citing his dedication to the children in the community. The award was presented during an Andalusia Kiwanis Club meeting on Monday.

“Not only is Mr. Nichols an excellent school administrator, he is also a committed, humble servant of the students and families of Pleasant Home School,” Syler said in her nomination. “He does not look to other people to solve problems or do the work, but takes the action, sacrifices his time and finances, and does it himself.”

Nichols has served at a special education teacher at Red Level School from 1992 to 2004, school counselor at PHS from 2004 to 2008 and principal of PHS from 2008 to present.

Syler praised Nichols for leading PHS to success in academics, athletics and safety, and said that under Nichols’ leadership, PHS has been awarded the Alabama’s Top Safe Schools award three years in a row.

Syler acknowledged in her letter many instances of Nichols’ care of the students at PHS.

“Many times he has made a way for children who would not otherwise be able to participate, to enjoy the extracurricular activities at school,” Syler said. “He personally provides transportation for students and parents to and from games; pays for necessary shoes, equipment and costs incurred when traveling; and on occasion, when these students play away games and stop for a meal, he doesn’t make a show about it or draw attention to himself, but he pays for the children’s meals.”

She said Nichols does not allow the school to incur any expenses, but pays for the students who do not have the funds to purchase snacks and drinks at home games out of his pocket.

“When doing this, he teaches the children to express gratitude and be appreciative,” Syler said.

Syler also pointed out that last year, Nichols became aware of a student at PHS who was not living in the best circumstances and needed a foster home.

“Rather than see this child moved away from everything he knew to be familiar, Mr. Nichols and his wife, Nancy, decided they would offer their home to foster children in need,’ Syler said. “The Nicholses became licensed foster parents and now serve foster children in our community.”

Nichols said he didn’t know how he could foster or how long he would be needed to, but it has given that student “one little opportunity and chance that he wouldn’t have had.”

“The kids are our future,” Nichols said. “It’s not me; it’s the teachers in our schools. It’s the teachers that wipe those eyes, wipe those noses and tell the kids they love them. That is who the citizen of the year award goes to, I’m just there with them and I think some of it rubbed off on me.”

Nichols said he was very humbled to accept the honor, and hopes to continue to strive to do his best for the children of Covington County.