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Teacher Spotlight: J. Nichelle Wimbush, Troup County Comprehensive High School

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The 100,000+ classroom teachers in Georgia’s public schools are on the front lines of education. They’re nurturing dreams and showing children what’s possible. And they’re making sure students have the tools they need to make those dreams a reality.

 

Teacher Spotlights, a recurring feature from the Georgia Department of Education, introduces you to those teachers. This time, meet J. Nichelle Wimbush, a five-year educator currently teaching at Troup County Comprehensive High School.

 

GaDOE: When did you know you wanted to be a teacher?

Wimbush: I wish that I could say that my childhood dream job was to be a teacher, but that is simply not true. I fell in love with teaching the first day of my first year as an educator at Troup High School. I have always known that I wanted to have a mentoring relationship with high school age children; so, when I decided not to go to medical school after college, teaching was the only logical alternative career choice, and I must say it was definitely the best decision of my life. There is no amount of money that will ever be able to pull me away from teaching my students. I love them as if they were my own children. When I come to work every day and my first student smiles at me, it gives me a sense of peace and purpose; purpose that I am positive I would never receive through any other career path.

 

How do you motivate students when they’re struggling with their schoolwork?    

I am a firm believer that strong student- teacher relationships are essential for the success of both the student and the teacher. Building a level of trust with my students that creates a “safe zone” in my class allows me to hold conferences with each student in order to discover the root causes of their struggles. The results of those conferences gives me the ability to build individualized remediation plans that incorporate both differentiation and scaffolding to help the student overcome their academic struggles.  In addition to the remediation plan, the student and I create a list of realistic measurable goals that I reward them for accomplishing. Student rewards can be something as small as a receiving recognition for all to hear or as big as lunch with Ms. Wimbush from a favorite restaurant.

 

What’s the last moment that caused you to stop to remember why you love teaching?

As a teacher, I am of the belief that I have been given the world and, in turn, it is my job to give each of my students the gift that has been given to me. To some, that may sound crazy because every day I interact with more than one-hundred twenty teenagers. In my eyes, what I do each day is a true blessing.

 

It is slightly challenging for me to point out the last time I remembered why I loved teaching because I have so many wonderful moments with all of my students every day. However, if I had to choose one, it would be the moment my students received their first benchmark scores. The look in their eyes gave me so much gratification. It was a look of validation and trust. It was a look that said “I did it!”, “I understand!”, and “I CAN do this!”  Biology is a difficult class, and I have very high expectations for my students. Therefore, when they experience their first big triumph, it makes all of the late nights, tutoring sessions, and gray hairs worth it. It reminds me that my career choice aligns perfectly with my purpose, and there is nothing else in this world I would rather do!

 

What advice would you give to a student considering teaching as a profession?

Teaching is not about getting summer’s off or the week long spring break or the two week break during the Christmas holidays.  Teaching is calling and not a career choice.  As an educator, you have an opportunity to change the world every single day of your life by investing in tomorrow’s leaders. If you consider becoming a teacher for any other reason than the children, I urge you to reconsider your career path. Remember, teaching is for those who are committed to developing ALL children into the world’s leaders and molding young minds into lifelong learners.

 

Want to nominate an exceptional Georgia educator for GaDOE Teacher Spotlights? Email Meghan Frick at mfrick@doe.k12.ga.us.​