Nichols stepping down as Quitman Elementary principal

By Larry Tucker
Posted 4/22/20

Quitman Elementary School Principal Mary Ann Nichols is set for retirement at the end of the school year.

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Nichols stepping down as Quitman Elementary principal


Quitman Elementary School Principal Mary Ann Nichols is set for retirement at the end of the school year. 

Nichols has been principal at the elementary school since 2004 and taught classes in French, English, journalism and directed the one act play. She also has 15 years experience in newspaper publishing and was involved in the public library.   

Nichols went to Angleton High School for two years and graduated from Huntsville High School after attending two years. Her influences in life were her maternal grandfather, a Methodist preacher in the hills of Kentucky, and sixth grade teacher Madeline Rucks.

Nichols said of Rucks, “She made me want to see the world.” She also listed her Methodist minister father and mother as major influences.

She attended Lon Morris College in Jacksonville where she earned an associate degree followed by a bachelor of arts at University of North Texas and a masters in education and certification in mid-management from Texas A&M Commerce.

At Quitman ISD, Nichols served as a specialist in the administration office and director of curriculum and instruction from 1997-2004.

She taught French at Longview High School for one year, but then Quitman Superintendent Ernie Ritter offered her the chance to come back to Quitman as a specialist and to work on her masters. 

In her announcement of Nichols retirement, Superintendent Rhonda Turner said, “Some people mark the success of that journey by years, some by money earned, and a rare few by the lives they have touched. There is no greater reward than when a career and a passion come together, and no one lives her passion more boldly than Mary Ann Nichols. While Ms. Nichols has announced her retirement at the completion of this school year, there is no doubt in my mind that she will continue to support her passion and love for kids in this community.

“I have spent a lifetime knowing this lady and she still amazes me with her gratitude, giving, and grit! She will be greatly missed in her current role as QES principal, but I must celebrate with her a well-deserved time to enjoy the fruits of her labor. We will host a formal retirement for Ms. Nichols as soon as we can “group” again! In the meantime, please take time to shower her in love with notes and memories.”

In her tenure, Nichols has been named Citizen of the Year by the Quitman Chamber of Commerce, Humanitarian of the Year, Harvard Scholar for Raise Your Hand Texas, Region VII Principal of the Year and Educator of the Year.

She has loved going to work every day.

“I went to QES every day because I loved it. I love the students and the staff and loved all the hugs. I will miss the hugs, smiles and enthusiasm and the unconditional love from the students,” Nichols remarked. “The staff at QES does such amazing work. Anything that might make me look the least bit good is the exceptional work every single day by the amazing teachers, office aides, maintenance, custodial and cafeteria workers. The hours, creativity and dedication they give all the time is heart-warming. I have so much fun!”

She said the biggest advancement she has seen in education over the years is in hands-on learning and the relevancy of learning.

Her advice for a beginning teacher is honest.

“My advice to a beginning teacher is to wait and decide if they want to stay in education until the second year. The first year is difficult,” Nichols explained. “I spent most of the first year crying in the bathtub wondering what I had gotten myself into. But my mentor teacher, Mary Alice Butler, and my principal, David Seago, encouraged me continually.”

Her favorite memories include her students.

“The kids say ridiculously funny things. I should have written them down. Gifts from students, drawings from students and the staff always making me feel loved and blessed,” Nichols added. “I have been lucky to see some of the most fantastic teachers do their magic. I am so grateful to the school boards who have supported me during this job.”

Her agenda for retirement is simple. “I plan to work, that is what I do,” she said.

Nichols attends First United Methodist Church Quitman where she teaches an adult class. She is married to Walter Grider and has a son and a daughter and four grandsons.