Nicole Madere said she enjoys the hour and 15-minute commute to University View Academy two to three days a week because she’s with some of her best friends. Three other UVA high school teachers are in the carpool, and their time together is spent collaborating on teaching methods. “I’m ready to steal ideas from anybody,” she admitted. “We have each other’s back. We share ideas. We’re all about trying new things,” she exclaimed.
Nicole is also a member of the UVA High School Faculty Advisory Committee. Its purpose is to improve lines of communication to promote a free exchange of ideas to facilitate the educational process.
She’s an English II teacher always looking for better ways to engage her students. “Make learning fun. Hook ’em and keep ’em,” is how Nicole phrased it. Like the time her class, the Madere Maniacs competed in the “Family Feud” game show-style match against Thomas St. Amant’s group, the St. Amant Slayers. Students in both classes had to read the same short story, and the competition tested their comprehension of the material during a joint live session. Assistant High School Principal Jason Cooper was the referee. Mr. St. Amant’s class won, but Nicole said she saw it as a win for engaging her students to keep them coming back to her live sessions.
In another live session, she employed a football-theme and played songs like “Eye of the Tiger.” “It makes it fun for me too. It’s not the same old, same old,” she stated. “I kinda go over the top with themes,” she admitted.
It’s Madere’s second year with UVA, but she’s been teaching 13. She’s also about half-way through her studies to earn a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She says there was a learning curve when she started with University View Academy but credited students for pushing her to try new technology. She said the tricky part was adapting her brick and mortar classroom approach to her online live sessions. “I’ve really gotten better with the technology part. The kids have that tech experience, and if it doesn’t work, the kids will suggest things,” she added. She has one student she described as her guinea pig that tries out her new tech ideas. “I trust her and listen to her, and it’s really worked out. She’s kind of the spokesperson for the rest of the class,” she explained.
Nicole applauds the flexibility she has as a teacher at UVA and how it translates to individualized learning for students. “I can give them one-on-one instruction and modify to make it fit their needs,” she stated. It mirrors her experience in high school under her intermediate composition teacher, Peggy Bordelon. The influence made Nicole want to become an educator. She says Ms. Bordelon had a passion for teaching and got her excited about it too. “She shared her wisdom with me, and that solidified the deal,” she observed.