Jessica Nichols was born and raised in Adel. She wanted to be a teacher as early as elementary school, and her grandmother reinforced that desire.
“My grandma was a teacher, and I had such a love and respect for her that I think it made me respect the profession even more,” she says.
Nichols had several teachers along the way who have influenced her. High school teacher Teresa Bellinghausen was her literature teacher, and Nichols was thrilled with the freedom the students were given. Her love of reading started in that class. Another inspiring figure was Miss Peterson, Nichols’ first grade teacher. The kindness Peterson showed has stuck with Nichols as she strives to emulate the same idea in her own classroom.
Nichols received her undergraduate degree in education from Iowa State University and has always taught in the ADM District. She substitute taught for one year and worked with English as a Second Language students for another, giving her valuable experience she couldn’t have learned otherwise. She has taught fifth grade at DeSoto Intermediate for four years.
Her days have a little bit of everything from the curriculum. She makes math fun with games to explain the concepts and breaks kids up into groups with a similar proficiency to help build their confidence and capabilities. In science she has her students do hands-on activities so that they can apply the ideas to real life. During reading they “talk about ways to more deeply understand and analyze.” Students also meet one on one and in small groups.
As Nichols teaches, she prepares the students for their middle school careers. She loves to see her students’ “Aha!” moments as they discover deeper meaning from their discussion and hard work. Nichols enjoys interacting with individuals and hearing about their lives and interests. Her ultimate love is reading to her students so “…they get the experience of reading without feeling forced.”
Nichols believes that ADM recognizes that school districts need to provide more opportunities for students to practice positive behavior, and though there is always room to improve, she constantly sees how her students do the right thing and respond to ADM’S positive message.