Everything about New York is bustling. Busy streets, businessmen hastily getting on the subway or hailing a cab and a multitude of people moving where there is adventure. Many people dream about moving to the Big Apple seeking opportunity, English teacher Kimberly Nickerson traded New York for the comfort and joy of classrooms in Texas.
“This my 28th year teaching,” Nickerson said. “I’m from Western New York in the Buffalo area. I went to high school and college at SUNY Oswego [State University of New York]. I went there, did my student teaching and got a job taking over for the teacher I student-taught with. I taught there for five years and then moved to Texas because I had family here.”
Despite years of teaching under her belt, Nickerson was not always interested in a career in education. Her college years were filled with production, and she expected to find a profession in the communications field.
“I never wanted to be a teacher,” Nickerson said. “My mom was a teacher, and I always said, ‘no, I don’t ever want to do that.’ In college, I was a communications major and I worked cameras for the news show, and I had a radio show with my roommate. I always thought I would be a production person in the communication field.”
Nickerson’s passion for teaching arose during her sophomore year of college after receiving the opportunity to help out at an alternative middle school.
“I had the opportunity late in my sophomore year to take an elective where I went to an alternative middle school for kids who were displaced from their old middle schools for various reasons, whether it was academic or disciplinary,” Nickerson said. “I was always in an English classroom. It was the one thing that made me consider education.”
Instead of considering teaching other subjects, Nickerson loves English due to the critical thinking and amount of interaction that an English class possesses.
“There is rarely a definitive right or wrong answer,” Nickerson said. “In math there is a right and a wrong answer. In science it’s a right or wrong answer. I find that in the talking, researching and collaborating, we grow so much and take in everyone’s point of view. It’s an anomaly in high school classes, and when you read a piece of literature and bring your own background into it, you draw your own conclusions from that and you have this epiphany about what you are reading, and that’s what’s exciting for me.”
Along with teaching pre-AP and AP English classes, Nickerson hopes to help students sharpen their knowledge with helpful SAT strategies in her SAT and PSAT classes.
“I just want to provide a non-threatening place that doesn’t count against [students] if they goof something up,” Nickerson said. “They need to practice, and I can teach them a numerous amount of strategies, so students can grasp on to a few that will help them more. Students start to see patterns in questions and can see what skills they are being tested on. Having that practice is huge for them.”
After experiencing the changes in the teaching curriculum, different administrations and school districts, Nickerson knows the challenges that come with being in the education field. Despite that, she continues to teach her students.
“Teaching is hard, and there are a lot of things that have gotten harder over the years,” Nickerson said. “One of the best parts about teaching is the students and what they bring, how they collaborate, how they participate: that’s the best part for many teachers. I want my students to know whatever happens on the outside, I want them to know they have a home here.”