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Sylacauga City Schools’ Jaclyn Rivers second from system to earn doctorate degree this month

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SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Jaclyn Rivers of the Sylacauga City School (SCS) system has earned the highest degree bestowed on educators, the Doctorate of Education (Ed.D) in Educational Leadership.

Rivers is the district Instructional Technology Specialist and defended her dissertation on Pre-Service and In-Service Teachers’ Sense of Efficacy for Character Education and Digital Citizenship in Alabama.

She will receive her degree in April from Samford University.

Dr. Rivers holds a bachelor’s degree in Collaborative Teacher Special Education from Auburn University, a master’s in Library Science and Administration from Jacksonville State University, and an educational specialist degree from the University of Montevallo in Instructional Technology. She has spent the last six years working on her post-graduate degrees to achieve this highest goal.

“K-5 schools have not always designated a time to focus on digital citizenship and character education for students, teaching them the proper conduct in person and online including how to behave with their peers,” said Rivers. “I came to realize that many teachers lacked the training to be prepared to teach digital literacy and character education.”

She is a 1998 graduate of Sylacauga High School. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, Rivers returned to her alma mater to teach special education for two years, then transitioned to library and media specialist at Pinecrest and Indian Valley.

According to Rivers, today’s students do not know a world without technology and are referred to as digital natives. She said that during the early days of the pandemic when teachers had to transition to virtual teaching she became aware of the need to teach educators how to use the technology available to them.

“Technology is a tool. It is a resource, but it does not take the place of a teacher,” she explained. “Plus, technology changes every day. This year my work has focused on helping teachers learn how to use these tools to expand their knowledge base.”

Her husband, Gary Rivers, is principal of Nichols-Lawson Middle School, and they have two middle school children, Carleigh Mae and Tripp.

“I hope my commitment to pursuing these career goals will inspire my children to set goals for themselves. Our daughter already is considering her future and wants to be the second doctor in our family,” she remarked.

Rivers becomes the second educator to earn a doctorate degree in education this month after Indian Valley Elementary principal Paula Bruno.

“Dr. Rivers has been instrumental this school year in leading the charge with our teachers on implementing blended learning in the classroom,” said SCS superintendent Dr. Michele Eller. “We are so fortunate that she has chosen to use her talents and skills here at home in Sylacauga.”


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