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Mar 16, 2014

CoE Student Spotlight: Nikki Newman ('14)

nikkiAs part of the JMU Women's Basketball Team, Nikki Newman certainly has what it takes on the court. Her passion and talent just won her the title for CAA's Defensive Player of the Year, and helped her lead the Dukes to win the 2014 CAA Championship. She brings that same passion and talent into her classroom as she wraps up student teaching and her final year here at JMU.

After considering several majors, Newman says she heard that the programs at the College of Education are fantastic and since "I've always had a passion to work with kids, without hesitation, I began the Elementary Education program at the CoE. I can definitely say it was one of the best decisions I've made while being at JMU."

Newman was inspired by her father, also a teacher, to start on the path to becoming an educator but says her experiences in the field give her a great opportunity to form relationships with her students.

"There are so many great experiences that I have had, especially from my student teaching placement - I'm fortunate enough to still be with the same class from my practicum experience - and it is very exciting to able to spend so much time with them and see them grow. The kids got the opportunity to make Valentines day boxes to put all their Valentines in that they got from their classmates.  They were able to make it anything they wanted to, so a variety of things came in the classroom, bu there was one little girl who came in with a bag over her box. She said 'Miss Newman! I made my Valentines day box because of you!' She pulled the bag off, and she had made a basketball hoop for her Valentines box. She had turned it upside down and it was basically a basketball court, and she had 2 hoops on either side of the box. It was super cute!"

Newman says she believes that playing basketball has helped her be more patient in the classroom, but that her sense of humor  from the classroom is brought onto the court.

"Sometimes I stay in teacher mode as if I am still with Elementary school kids. The girls always laugh at me! I definitely believe it is beneficial for me though, as well as the girls on the team. I always have stories for the girls about the kids coming up and asking me questions, or telling me how much fun they had at a game and how much they look up to us. There have been a few times where some of my teammates were able to make it to the schools I have been placed in to help out! I can relate from being on a college level women's basketball team to an elementary classroom, and I love it!

To anyone considering education as a career, Newman has some advice:

"If you are truly passionate about becoming a teacher, I can promise you that you will not regret it! The professors are great and you can tell that they genuinely love what they do.  You form so many great friendships and you learn so much about teaching. Without a doubt I can promise you would enjoy your time if you decided to pursue teaching here at the College of Education at JMU."

Nikki Newman is wrapping up the fifth-year of her M.A.T. program. She is an Interdisciplinary liberal studies major with a minor in elementary education.