When Ashland Ridge kindergarten teacher Nicole Vortherms began college at Iowa State, engineering was her chosen career path.
“I love math,” she says. “After a couple years, I realized engineering was not what I wanted to do, so I switched to teaching, with the idea that I would teach math.”
Going through teaching courses, Vortherms soon recognized she really had a passion for teaching younger children.
“I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. I know that in my heart. And I still get to teach math,” she says.
Vortherms began her career in Clarinda teaching second grade, then taught first grade in Norwalk. The 17-year teaching veteran then made her way to Ankeny in 2003, first at Northwest, then Terrace and Northeast before landing at Ashland Ridge five years ago.
Vortherms is continuing her own education by working on her master’s degree in reading from Drake University.
“I feel that that’s important for me to be a good role model and find new ways to reach and teach the kids,” she explains. “I’m still learning, just like them.”
Vortherms has high expectations for her students.
“I have trust and respect for them, and they have it for me in return,” she says. “I let them know they are responsible for their own learning. It’s not only me here to teach them. They are responsible for being a learner and doing their best. I make sure they know they can do it, and I believe in them.”
Patience is one attribute Vortherms credits as one of her teaching strengths.
“I want them to be excited about school and create a love for learning,” she says. “Everything happens at a different pace for each child. It’s a process, and being there when they are ready, so we can just take off with that learning, takes time.”
Watching her own daughters at home playing teacher reminds Vortherms that she made the right decision choosing her career path.
“When I hear my children, it makes me feel that it’s a profession that they think is worthwhile, so I’m proud I became a teacher,” she says.
Vortherms and her husband, Jeremy, decided to move to Ankeny so their three daughters could attend school there.
“The level of education the kids receive here is amazing,” she says.