Profile picture of Nicole, our Tip-Top Brain Instructor

Ms. Nicole Early Childhood Instructor

At Kindergarten graduation, we all had to stand up, say our name, and say what we wanted to be when we grew up. The shaking video of my dad holding the video camera is proof when I say that all I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a teacher. Read my complete bio!

My name is Nicole and I am currently a K-2 instructor here at Tip-Top Brain. I previously worked our Summer STEAM Camp with students K-2 working on ELA foundational skills, Math, and Astronomy into our daily learning activities. When I am not at Tip Top Brain or working in the classroom, I am usually out running around the neighborhood. I currently participate in races through New York Road Runners and I am currently training for the NYC Marathon next year in 2020.

“Never let the fear of striking out prevent you from playing the game.” This quote has led me to where I am today, both in my personal and professional life. I never want my fears or anxieties to get in the way of doing what I love to do – fostering the love of learning to children. I want to relay the same message to my students. If something is tough or challenging, don’t let it stop you and strive to be your best. When a student has difficulty with a concept, it is my responsibility to encourage and motivate those students to strive to reach their fullest potential; which every student can do. What motivates me is seeing the smiles on students’ faces and when they are excited and inspired to learn.

Back in 2010, I graduated from Talent Unlimited High School with my Advanced Regents Diploma and Performing Art Diploma. In high school, I was a Dance major where, on top of academic courses, I danced every day as part of my major. In 2014, I graduated from CUNY Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts Diploma with Sum Laude honors. I graduated with a double major in Psychology and Sociology and a minor in English, and was also part of the softball and swimming varsity teams. I loved the Purple and Gold so much that I went back to CUNY Hunter College for graduate school. I graduated with my Masters of Science in Special Education in 2016. I obtained certification in two areas – Early Childhood Education and Students with Disabilities. During my coursework in graduate school, I conducted research on Integrated Co-Teaching classrooms and how students with Autism will benefit from such settings. I am a huge advocate for Inclusion settings and including all students, with and without disabilities, in the classroom, learning, playing and exploring together. At graduation, I was awarded the Inaugural Dr. Tim Lackaye Memorial Award. This award was presented to me based off of my experience in Learning Lab, a course that requires students to tutor grade level students in a variety of subjects throughout the school year – similar to Tip Top Brain! Shortly after graduate school, I realized that I wanted to expand my certifications. I wanted to teach in more capacities and have the opportunity to teach different students of different levels and abilities. I decided to go back to Hunter College for another Masters degree where I obtained a certification in Childhood Special Education as well as a certification in Gifted and Talented Education for all grades. Now, I could teach a wide range of students, not only including different ages,, but also a wide range of ability levels – special education, general education and gifted and talented education.

Growing up, my favorite subject was Math. I was never a lover for reading but then as I grew up, I loved books more and more. Since I felt cheated out of a love for books when I was in elementary school, I want to instill that love for reading on my own students. I have experience teaching and going to Professional Development workshops in reading. I am fluent in the Wilson Reading System, specifically Fundations. This program allows for students to have a multi-sensory approach to learning Phonics, which includes their letter sounds, blending, segmenting words, etc.

Besides teaching at Tip Top Brain, I am also a Kindergarten head special education teacher at a public school in the West Village. I have been there for the past three years and before my position as a Kindergarten teacher, I was the special educator in a second grade Integrated Co-Teaching classroom. I have learned a lot from my experience in an ICT setting and the main takeaway is how important it is to collaborate with other professionals for the best interest of the students.

Going back to my Kindergarten graduation, all that I have done in my life was to get where I am today. I always knew in my heart that I wanted to be a teacher. Growing up with teachers who were great and some who were not so great, made me realize what kind of teacher I wanted to be: a teacher who will put her students first before herself, a teacher who will sacrifice dinners with friends and weekends away to lesson plan or grade assignments, and a teacher who will do all she can to make sure her students felt safe, loved and like they wanted to be there. That is my job, in all my teaching capacities – as a Kindergarten teacher in the public school and right here at Tip-Top Brain.

Working at Tip-Top Brain is special. Being able to work one on one with a student is an experience that is rare in the classroom – for both the teacher and the student. To be able to really focus on what they are struggling with while also building up on their strengths allows the student to feel confident. Without competing for attention in a classroom of so many other students, they feel heard and listened to. Working at Tip-Top Brain has allowed me to really be creative with different reading strategies, and math too! It has allowed me to track student progress over time and really see the difference when they take their growth tests. It has been a truly rewarding experience and I am looking forward to more years working ahead!

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