Empowering Future Educators

Empowering Future Educators

Janice Nicholson

To Mississippi State University alumni, giving gifts is more than just growing the university’s resources. For some, gifts are a way to invest in the future of our state. For others, it’s about honoring the past. But for Janice I. Nicholson, it’s both.

With a generous heart for the future and humble memories of the past, Nicholson’s recent gift to MSU not only supports students in the College of Education, but also stands as a tribute to one of Mississippi’s beloved pioneers in educational leadership.

The late Gloria Correro was a pioneer in advancing early childhood education and other needed educational endeavors. In 1979, she spearheaded the MSU-Starkville Cooperative Demonstration Kindergarten, a partnership between the Mississippi State University College of Education and the Starkville School District. She also created the state's first two public school kindergarten classrooms, laying the groundwork for Mississippi's Education Reform Act of 1982, which implemented kindergarten in public schools state-wide.

Her efforts were pivotal in addressing Mississippi's educational challenges, including the nation's highest illiteracy rate and a significant dropout rate. Correro's innovative work enhanced educational outcomes for young learners and trained educators in kindergarten certification, which shaped the future of early childhood education in Mississippi.

Nicholson was grateful for Correro’s mentorship while in school.

“Dr. Gloria Correro was an outstanding educator who influenced my life and career. She encouraged opportunities for professional growth and learning opportunities that enabled me to succeed in my educational career,” Nicholson said.

For Nicholson, the impact of Correro’s mentorship has extended well beyond her college years.

“Throughout my career, I kept in touch with her and sought her guidance when I needed expert advice on educational matters. She was always willing to share her thoughts and point me in the right direction. I will be forever grateful that I had the privilege to work with and learn from Dr. Correro,” she said.

Nicholson, whose illustrious career in education spans over five decades, continues this legacy of selfless giving to younger generations. Her most recent gift in memory of Correro will support aspiring educators through the establishment of the Dr. Gloria Correro Memorial Annual and Endowed Scholarship awards. Both funds underscore Nicholson’s deep commitment to education and her desire to honor Correro’s profound impact on her life and career.

“I hope that this gift will serve as a reminder of the many contributions Dr. Correro made to the education profession and inspire future students as they pursue a career in education,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson’s gift is a tribute to Dr. Correro’s legacy and reflects her own journey and achievements. After earning her master’s and doctoral degrees from MSU in 1967 and 1977, she invested over five decades of her life working in education as a teacher and administrator.

She served the University of North Alabama for 37 years in several leadership roles before returning to her undergraduate alma mater, Blue Mountain College, where she worked until her 2012 retirement. She was executive vice president for student affairs and graduate and special programs and served as Blue Mountain’s acting president in 2012.

Throughout her tremendous service with other institutions, Nicholson remained an ardent supporter of MSU. In 2018, she was honored as the Fan of the Year during the MSU women’s basketball program’s yearly awards ceremony. The following year, she established the namesake James W. Nicholson Reading Room at MSU’s Mitchell Memorial Library to pay tribute to her late brother, also an MSU graduate.

In recognition of her work and dedication, Nicholson became the first female to receive MSU’s most prestigious alumni honor, Alumni of the Year, in 2021.

The collective dedication of Nicholson and Correro to the field of education and to supporting others will be carried forward through the Dr. Gloria Correro Memorial Annual and Endowed Scholarship awards, ensuring that their legacy of teaching excellence and the transformative power of education continue to inspire future generations of educators at Mississippi State University.