Student Nomination Story

In 9th grade, I met a teacher who became one of the most wonderful human beings I’ve ever known. Her name is Megan Nicholson and to this day, she is one of my favorite people in the world. Referring to someone as “one of your favorite people in the world” does sound childish, but in my case, I realized that with everything she’s done for me, it isn’t an exaggeration. I’ve always been shy around other teachers, but in 9th grade, I became comfortable enough with my World History teacher to ask her questions regarding Korean history. Considering my personality, I thought that I would only talk to her in 9th grade, but I continued associating with her, resulting in a strong teacher-student relationship. For the past 4 years, Ms. Nicholson has been nothing but a role model to me. Although I didn’t have her as my teacher after 9th grade, I would get excited to tell her about trivial things like my Korean competitions or even just to ask her for advice on personal issues. She was the highlight of my day. There were times when I hesitated to enter her room to talk to her or when I was worried I would distract her from her work. However, she always greeted me with “Hi” or “What’s up” and she always confirmed in some kind of way that she was listening to me rant about whatever stress I had. This past year, I had multiple Korean competitions and school events that were the main reason for my stress. Recently, I participated in a Japan Quiz Bowl competition, but the day before, it finally hit me that I was going to the competition and that resulted in panic and anxiety. Of course, there was nothing I could say to calm myself down so I went to the one adult I knew who could calm me down. When I entered her room, I said “Hi” in a rushed manner and that caused Ms. Nicholson to have a hint of worry in her eyes. I gave her my infamous anxious smile and she knew that I had a problem. She answered with a short “Hi” just like mine and I went right into my issue. For 5 minutes, I ranted on about how I was nervous for the competition, how I feared I wouldn’t be able to do as well as others’ expectations, how I would disappoint not only others, but myself as well. As I was talking about all the things that were troubling me, I noticed that I felt more safe and I felt less anxious than I was before. Once I was done spitting out all my problems to her, she gave me a smile and simply said, “Well, you studied the best you can, right?” I gave her a nod and she continued, “Then you do the best you can at the competition as well. And if you don’t go to championships, then you just don’t go to championships.” I still was looking at her as if I was worried so Ms. Nicholson said, “We both know that you’re going to try your best at the competition. And if anyone says otherwise, then don’t listen to them. No matter what, you’re going to try your best and that’s all that matters.” It surprises me every time how even though Ms. Nicholson doesn’t say much, her words have the effect of calming me down and making me believe that I would do well. Ms. Nicholson definitely gives me advice to do well in my academic competitions, but she also helped me grow as a person. I had lower self-esteem before I met Ms. Nicholson because I didn’t believe in my abilities but her words convinced me that I should be confident in my skills. I usually think if myself as a pessimistic person, but the fact that she has the power to change me just with her words still amazes me from time to time. Although I believe that Ms. Nicholson is a very much needed presence here at Whitney High School, as much as it pains me to say, she will continue on as a social science teacher at another school. I always thought that I would be able to visit her after I graduate, but this means that after 2 and a half months, I would have to say goodbye to all the conversations I had with her, all the advice I received from her, and all the laughs I got from her. I won't be able to visit her in the same classroom next year, but I hope that whenever I lose my self-confidence, I can remember all the advice and words of encouragement she told me. I know I learned a lot from her and hope to carry that all in my heart to remind myself daily to be a better person and to strive for the best. Ms. Megan Nicholson will definitely be missed, but not forgotten. 10 years from now, I will still remember her name and how she used to be my role model, my hero during my time in high school. In 2 and a half months, she will “graduate” from Whitney and I hope she is Honored for everything she has done for me.

Holly Cho

To see more exceptional teacher nominees, visit The Honor Roll.