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College of Education Spotlight Series: Maya and Mariah Manson

“Who am I fighting for? I’m fighting for the students… And when we remember who we’re fighting for, it won’t matter what we’re fighting.” 
Mariah and Maya Manson, NKU alumnae, holding apples

Everyone could use a hero, and that is just what Norse alumnae Maya and Mariah Manson provide in their new book, “Divine Sisters.”

Mariah and Maya both graduated from Northern Kentucky University’s Elementary Education program in 2017. The twins were together through every step in their educator journeys from grade school to their time at NKU to earning their master’s degrees in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Cincinnati. They even accepted their first positions together teaching elementary at Imagine Schools in Dayton, Ohio. It makes sense that their next career accomplishment—writing “Divine Sisters”—would be a joint project. 

“Divine Sisters” was published in October 2020. The two main characters, modeled after the authors, are teachers and superheroes. The series emphasizes finding one’s purpose and the impact that the teaching profession can have. The idea for the book came from a dream that Maya had of the twins as teachers and superheroes who needed to “activate their powers.” From there, Mariah and Maya worked for two years to bring the idea to life. 

Maya and Mariah hope that both children and adults will enjoy this series and benefit from its encouragement to find or revisit one’s purpose and goals. The authors say that their work with the book is not yet done. They are getting the word out and have already provided a variety of resources for readers, students, and teachers on their website. Children will have fun with the printable and online games. Teachers can find inspiration and student activities on the website as well as chapter discussion questions in the book.

"If you are in the education field, you have been called."

The Manson sisters recall on their time at NKU fondly. They were both active in Nu Upsilon Black Women’s Honorary, Unmerited Favor Praise Dance and Black and Brown Educators of Excellence. The twins served as academic tutors, and Mariah was also a Presidential Ambassador and NKU R.O.C.K.S. mentor.

Mariah highlighted the Black and Brown Educators of Excellence (BBofE) student organization, saying “BBofE really helped us connect” and “made sure we always felt welcome.” The sisters credit NKU for the practical learning they participated in at schools throughout the tri-state area. Maya shared that in her work today she still relies on classroom management techniques that she learned as an NKU student. 

One of the reasons that the twins wrote the book was to encourage teachers to persist in teaching and to connect with the “why” behind their careers. When asked what encouragement they would offer to NKU graduates entering the field of teaching during a pandemic.

“If you are in the education field, you have been called,” Mariah says. She emphasized the difference teachers can make by helping students “achieve their dreams, their goals” and “get to where they need to be.” She recalled a quote from the book: “Who am I fighting for? I’m fighting for the students… And when we remember who we’re fighting for, it won’t matter what we’re fighting.” 

The twins shared a few things that make teaching so fulfilling for them. 

“When [students] are struggling with something, and I show them a new way… I love seeing that moment when the student understands,” Maya says. Maya shared an anecdote from a science lesson in which her students said, “You made this so fun! ... This is so cool—I have so many questions.” Several students then expressed interested in science careers.

Just like the Divine Sisters character, Maya explained that she was “helping them connect to their purpose.” Mariah talked about how her students “touched her heart.” Hearing that her students “loved their teacher” and that the parents appreciated and supported her showed Mariah her impact as an educator. These teachers and authors are not finished yet. 

“This is only the beginning,” Maya says. They plan to continue the “Divine Sisters” series and already have a vision for seven books in total—each of which will reveal new superpowers for the twin heroes.