This year’s Black History Month honoree is a familiar face to hundreds of Benson natives. Whether he taught them in Social Studies, coached them on the field or on the court — Nathan Alford was an inspiration to many during his time in the local education system.
Skimming his nomination form — thoroughly put together by retired Benson Elementary School teacher Beth Rogers — a few aspects of Mr. Alford’s personality stand out.
“If you were to ask young adults about a favorite teacher, Mr. Alford’s name would sure be mentioned,” she wrote. “He was fair to all, knew his subject matter, and made his social studies class interesting.”
Mr. Alford spent his entire career inside Johnston County Public Schools — teaching Social Studies and coaching football and basketball. He began working there in 1969, a short time after graduating from St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh. He is a lifelong resident of Benson where he resides with his wife Shirley.
“(He) has been Social Studies teacher and football/basketball coach for students who are now in their 40s,” said Mrs. Rogers. “He was still working after retirement until (a few) years ago with Benson Middle School as the Athletic Director. To this day, he is still on the sub-teacher list for Johnston County Schools.”
Reading and listening to Mr. Alford stories, one quickly begins to piece together the type of teacher he was — a serious educator that “meant business” both on and off the field, but never afraid to laugh with students and engage them in thought.
“Non-athletic students felt close to him as well as those that played on the fields for him,” explained Mrs. Rogers. “The girls as well as the boys felt an allegiance to him and were appreciative for not only classroom lessons, but life lessons.”
Mr. Alford is a dedicated member of the New Disciples of Christ Church in Fayetteville. He is a key component to successful fundraisers there, as he has been for churches in Benson throughout the years.
“One only has to ask friends to see the amount of time this man gives unselfishly to his community,” wrote Mrs. Rogers. “He surely has a ‘servant’s heart.’”
The Benson Museum of Local History’s Eighth Annual Black History Month Celebration will be held Sunday, February 24, 2019 from 2pm to 4pm. Guests are encouraged to bring historical items — and lots of stories — to share.
Benson’s museum is located at 102 W. Main Street. For more information about the event call Terry Hobgood at 919-894-3553 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.