• January 20, 2020

AN APPLE FOR THE TEACHER – Upper Township Elementary School: Jamie Nicholl - Ocean City Sentinel: News

AN APPLE FOR THE TEACHER – Upper Township Elementary School: Jamie Nicholl

Connect with children in an inclusive classroom

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Posted: Thursday, January 2, 2020 2:48 pm

MARMORA – Jamie Nicholl’s uncle, who is mentally disabled, is the reason she is a special education teacher. 

Nicholl, who teaches at the Upper Township Elementary School, said her grandparents helped her uncle become as independent as he could.  He held a job as a janitor for about 30 years, knows how to take public transportation, and to deposit a check, according to Nicholl. 

“I always wanted to help students like that,” Nicholl, of Ocean City, said. 

She earned her undergraduate degree at the Pennsylvania State University and has a master’s degree from Arcadia University.

Her career began in central Bucks County, Pa., where she taught for about six years.  Nicholl, originally from the Doylestown, Pa.-area, moved to New Jersey because her husband lived in the area.   

This is her sixth year teaching in Upper Township.  

She was named the Upper Township Elementary School Staff Member of the Year. 

Nicholl said she likes that it is a small community and that everyone is supportive of each other. 

“It just seems like a very unified and supportive township in general,” she said.  “We have some students who have been sick and other things, and losses, and I always feel like everyone pulls together to support one another, which is very impressive.”

Nicholl co-teaches in an inclusive classroom, where regular education and special education students learn together. 

She also teaches the Wilson Reading System for one class period per day. 

On inclusive classrooms, Nicholl said she feels “like it benefits the students socially.

“Some have better social skills than others do, and I do think it’s good.  I think they’re able to form friendships better (in an inclusive classroom),” she said. 

Nicholl’s students follow a curriculum similar to the regular education students, which Nicholl modifies depending on her students’ needs. 

“Their path might look a little different, but at the end of the day, they’re still getting to what we would hope for all students,” she said. 

During her time in the classroom, Nicholl felt that standardized testing increased and that the curriculum became more rigorous. 

“I don’t think that’s a negative thing,” Nicholl said about the curriculum.  “I think a lot of the students are challenged.  I think they have to really think about what they’re learning, and I think that’s good, that the students really have to think about what they’re doing and what they’re learning in the classroom.”

In addition to teaching, Nicholl spent about three years serving on the school’s Intervention & Referral Services (I&RS) team. 

She is currently pursuing her supervisory certificate. 

When asked about her educational philosophy, Nicholl said she believes everyone is capable of learning, one way or another. 

“It’s just kind of finding that way to connect with that child to get them to be successful, and I always find that every child is very different and you kind of have to be patient with them,” she said. 

Nicholl added that it is important to build a relationship with children and be a strong role model for them, “because, at the end of the day, a child needs to love to learn,” she said. 


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