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Vienna Teacher Earns Kenan Fellowship
May 12, 2023 – Vienna Elementary School Fifth Grade Teacher Trey Nichols is one of 38 teachers in North Carolina who has been selected for the 2023-24 Kenan Fellows Program.
The Kenan Fellows Program offers educators new work and research experiences that they can use to enrich their schools. This year’s fellows will engage in 80 hours of professional development related to project-based learning, school-community relations, and peer mentoring and coaching. Nichols will be studying clean energy, specifically as it relates to the heating and cooling industry, and with help from other teachers in his cohort, he will develop curricula that can integrate future-focused energy solutions into science education at every grade level.
“If we plant the seeds of the importance of clean energy now and we get our students excited about it, then 30 years from now, they’ll be able to positively influence future generations the same way,” Nichols said.
Nichols is currently finishing his first year teaching at Vienna after a seven-year career at South Fork Elementary School. Though he’s relatively new to his position, he’s gotten comfortable with what it means to be a teacher and feels that it’s time to take more initiative in furthering his students’ educations. His Kenan Fellowship is an opportunity to not only reshape lesson plans to maximize student engagement, but also give other teachers additional tools to reach their classes with. It’s an exciting chance to pay it forward after his own mentors put him in a position to succeed in the classroom.
“My first few years of teaching, I was mostly focused on getting myself established with the basics and learning the ropes,” Nichols said. “Now I’m taking the next step.”
Part of what makes Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools teachers great at their jobs is their willingness to look beyond the classroom for ways to make education more tangible for their students. Nichols is an example of that philosophy, taking on a major challenge with the Kenan Fellows Program in hopes of putting new real-world perspective to his science lessons. If the result is a student body inspired to keep thinking about the world around them even once they’ve left his class, all the effort will have been worth it.
“Having hands-on learning is the most important thing for our students, and luckily in science, we’re able to give them a lot of that,” Nichols said. “If we can get them to buy in, they’ll see why we’re teaching it to them in the first place.”
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