A passion for influencing children to thrive prompted Amber Nichols to shift gears in her career to become an educator.
Nichols chose the WVU Master of Arts in Teaching program because it supported her goal of becoming a teacher. She says she always knew that she wanted to motivate children. “I thought that was going to be a career in children's broadcasting. However, being a teacher and working with children in my classroom generates a deeper, more meaningful effect on their lives,” she said.
“The MAT program at WVU was exactly what I needed to add to that foundation. It was flexible, rigorous and encompassed all the knowledge I needed to succeed in my own classroom. No matter what path leads you to education, you can rest assured that this program will prepare you to enter your own classroom with knowledge, confidence and creativity.”
Nichols’ achievement in the classroom was recently recognized by the West Virginia Department of Education and West Virginia Board of Education. The groups presented Nichols with the 2023 WV Teacher of the Year award during the Celebration of Excellence in Education event in Charleston. She was acknowledged for her diligent efforts and care for her students and community while representing the outstanding teachers across the state.
Nichols talks more about her experience in the MAT program, which allowed her to graduate with a master’s +15 hours. “The coursework was designed for professionals to enter the teaching field prepared to not only excel as an educator, but also to be a teacher leader. I attribute so many of my leadership experiences to my time at WVU and the program,” she said.
Her favorite aspect of the program was the exposure it offered to the various aspects of education. “I feel as if I was introduced to multiple areas of education: special education, early childhood education, reading studies, math, arts and music curriculum, social and emotional wellbeing and so much more. The program was well rounded with an emphasis on superior teaching,” Nichols added.
Nichols is enthusiastic about the program and its outcomes. She encourages other professionals to consider an education degree. “DO IT! We need excellent educators in the field. West Virginia is better because of the promise our kids show in the classroom,” she said. “Our children deserve the absolute best because they are our future. Teaching is a demanding field, but the benefit of knowing that you made a difference in the life of a child is priceless.”
Nichols credits program faculty with her successful development as a student. “Steve Rinehart, Sylvia Berryhill, Johnna Bolyard and Ashley Martucci stand out the most in the program. I felt like they had an open door for their students,” she said. “They pushed me to take risks and think outside of my comfort zone. I would not be the educator I am today without the guidance of these outstanding mentors.”
Nichols is a kindergarten teacher at Eastwood Elementary School in Morgantown and has taught for 21 years. She is an active member of Eastwood Elementary’s leadership, curriculum and behavior intervention teams and is a mentor teacher for future teachers.
She strives to set rigorous academic and social-emotional goals for each child in her class and prides herself on creating an enriching classroom environment in which all students feel safe, loved and appreciated. Nichols enjoys writing and spending time with her husband, three children and two dogs.
She earned her undergraduate degree from Shepherd College in mass communications with a minor in journalism. She graduated from Shepherd in 2001 and began teaching in Arizona that same year. She earned her Master of Arts in Teaching at WVU in 2009.