published Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Best Teacher

Andy Nichols

East Brainerd Elementary

7453 E. Brainerd Rd



Christina Howard

East Ridge High School

4320 Bennett Rd

David Sneed

Soddy Daisy High School

618 Sequoyah Rd, Soddy Daisy, TN



Whether he’s inventing holidays or wearing the costume of a historical fi gure, Best Teacher award winner Andy Nichols knows that often the best way to connect with students is to use his imagination. “They’re used to watching animated things like ‘Spongebob Squarepants,’ so I try to be more animated,” says Nichols. “A lot of times in social studies, I’ll dress up and tell the story from the character’s point of view.” A teacher of both the fourth and fifth grades at East Brainerd Elementary since 1998, Nichols said he chose the profession because he finds joy in working with children, particularly in this age group. “They get excited about learning and they’re very honest,” says Nichols of his students. “They really open themselves up to you.” Nichols says the secret of his success as a teacher is his ability to take an interest in each student on an individual level. “I let them know I really care, so they work harder and deal with discipline better,” he says. (At this age) it’s still cool to be the teacher’s friend, which makes it a little easier.” Nichols seems to have made many friends in the classroom, and continues to be passionate about every student’s achievement even after the final bell rings. “Once you’re one of my kids, you’re always one of my kids,” says Nichols. “It’s a very rewarding job.”

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