When it comes to teaching children, it takes one to know one for new first grade teacher Lucy Nickolay.
“I decided to become a teacher because I love working with children and getting to watch them learn and grow. I often joke that I am like a big kid myself, so it is the perfect job for me.”
Nickolay grew up in suburban Chanhassen but then moved to the more rural New Prague when she was 14. She still lives there.
“I like to think I got the best of both worlds.”
After graduating from New Prague High School, she attended Minnesota State University, Moorhead and earned an Elementary Inclusive Education degree and a minor in mathematics.
Before Cleveland, she taught at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic School in Montgomery and Falcon Ridge Elementary in New Prague.
“I have been so lucky to have so many amazing teachers while I was in school and continue to work with many wonderful teachers, and they continue to inspire me to be a better teacher,” she said. “I hope to have the same influence on my students that they had on me.”
She chose Cleveland school because she liked that it is in a smaller community and that everyone seems very supportive at the school and in the community.
“I like that it is small enough where you can really get to know the staff, students and families. From the beginning I felt welcomed, and everyone has only had good things to say about their experience. I look forward to being a Clipper and being a part of the community.”
Nickolay likes the variety that comes with teaching. No two days are ever the same, she said.
"I think you can learn so much from children, and it is so fun to work with them each day."
While it is hard for her to pick a subject she likes teaching the best, reading is among her favorites as is social studies.
“At the first-grade level, I do really enjoy teaching reading. They can make so much growth in this area. At the beginning of the year, they come in barely reading or having not much interest in reading, but by the end, they are stronger readers and are really enjoying it. As a teacher, it is very satisfying to see this growth over the year and that spark in them. I also always loved social studies in school, so I do enjoy sneaking in fun projects and lessons about different social studies topics into our learning.”
One of her proudest moments was becoming a Certified Read to Believe Literacy coach through the Groves program.
“This was a program run at a school where I previously worked. It started with first getting trained in the Groves literacy program, and then I was chosen to become our onsite coach and went through training to help support my coworkers in the program and really help it grow at our school. This opportunity really allowed me to strengthen my phonics skills, improve how I teach phonics and reading, support my coworkers in multiple ways and be a leader amongst my peers. I am very grateful and proud that I was not only able to participate in this program but also be the onsite coach.”
Family is important to her. She is the youngest of three children and has an older sister and brother.
“I spend a lot of time with them. I have been so lucky to have a wonderful brother-in-law and sister-in-law added to our family. I am an extremely proud aunt to my nephew, who I love to spend time with, and I am a very happy fur-aunt to a yellow lab.”
Besides hanging out with family and friends, when Nickolay is not in the classroom, she enjoys playing games, solving puzzles and reading. She also likes to golf and to compete on a sand volleyball league in the summer and to participate in bowling leagues in the winter.
“I really enjoy staying busy and being active,” she said.