TASA’s “Inspiring Leaders” tagline is not just a reminder of TASA’s commitment to leadership development; it describes our members themselves — school leaders who inspire others as they work to prepare future-ready students. Meet Roosevelt Nivens, one of those Inspiring Leaders.
The son of two educators, Dr. Roosevelt Nivens struggled in school as a young child. It took a dedicated sixth grade teacher to get through to him and help him realize his full potential.
After getting his degree in education, Nivens played professional football for a few years before an injury changed his career plans. He began teaching in Dallas ISD and discovered how much he loves working with students. In 2015, Nivens was appointed superintendent of Community ISD, where he says he finds joy in positively impacting students in the district.
“Education is a calling, a ministry for me,” Nivens says. “I have a passion to help young people realize and get closer to reaching their full potential. Seeing them become successful adults fuels me to keep pushing forward.”
Always open and available to the community he serves, Nivens hands out his cellphone number to families in his district and refers to his students as his “babies.” In his district, he’s modeled a supportive environment that aims to provide the best opportunities to every student, no matter their circumstances.
“Our school district is named Community and that is exactly what we are,” he says. “I love how we always come together to support our students in their endeavors and efforts. I am always blown away how we help one another to make certain families have their basic needs met.”
For Nivens, communication with other leaders is key to having a successful career.
“I have numerous mentors, and I have learned from their experiences, which allows me to make great decisions (the first time) for the young people I serve,” he says. “The job of the superintendent is very lonely and extremely stressful … It’s wonderful to have like-minded people who are in the same struggle as you to share ideas or simply vent frustrations.”
Niven’s colleagues see him as an inspiring leader because of his dedication to making a better world for not only his students, but his entire community. In the wake of George Floyd’s death, Nivens released a video, calling on other leaders to present a cohesive front to fight racism in the community. It was a brave move that helped inspire others to action.
“We live in a better world because of Roosevelt Nivens,” says Jill Siler, superintendent of Gunter ISD. “He ‘speaks life’ into those he leads and everyone else around him. He is resolved to help young people create a better future, and his impact goes far beyond Community ISD.”
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