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2023 Celebrating Excellence in Education winner

Nicole Huntley, as a young girl, built her own classroom with papers teachers no longer wanted, as well as pencils, posters, chairs, and her own teacher desk she found at a garage sale. Inside her makeshift classroom, she taught her brothers and neighbor kids for countless hours in the evenings, weekends, and summers, knowing one day she would be a teacher for real. “I knew I was meant to teach from an early age, and, growing up, I loved getting to help my teachers in their own classrooms after school,” she said. 

Now that she teaches 6th grade English Language Arts at Maize Intermediate School, she loves walking alongside her students and witnessing their educational growth. Whether it’s the light bulb moment or watching a reluctant reader read a book cover-to-cover, it fills her with a reason of purpose. She hopes her students remember to dig deep, become confident in writing and reading, and make fun memories along the way. 

Maize Intermediate School Principal Jenifer Smith said, “Nicole goes above and beyond to engage her students with relevant, rigorous, and fun lessons.”

Nicole’s passion and drive for teaching continues daily, as she teaches her students but also learns from them. She said, “My favorite thing is when they track me down and share a personal connection or idea related to our learning goals. They inspire me everyday to enjoy life.”