Nicole Johnston always wanted to be a teacher. In fact, in high school, she chose to work at the on-campus pre-school and took pre-education classes that provided her with hands-on experience at the local elementary school. A true love of teaching was ignited and nurtured at a young age, and Nicole was determined to realize her dream.
She also was fueled by a fervent desire to utilize her personal experience as a mediocre student to help motivate struggling kids.
“For me, I wasn’t that straight A, perfect student. That background helps me with my relationship with students,” she says. “I really connect well with the kids, and I help them put a voice to what they are feeling.”
Nicole’s career has been varied. From teacher to administrator to principal, she has delved into and excelled in many educational arenas.
“I didn’t have being an administrator as a goal. It just sort of happened for me,” says the middle school principal. “For me, the big piece is making a difference. No day is the same, and I get to impact lots of different people on lots of different levels.”
Nicole says that, throughout all the twists and turns of her career, PEBC has been a consistent, vital tool.
“My experience with PEBC has been over 10 years reading professional books endorsed and written by PEBC staff and host teachers, attending Institutes and visiting lab classrooms in Denver and California,” she says.
As a principal, she encourages her teachers to utilize and embrace everything PEBC has to offer. Even in a high performing school, she says, things can get stagnant, and PEBC training can make all the difference.
“When I got to my current school, I didn’t come in and say, ‘Now, we’re going to do PEBC,’” she says. “Quite simply, PEBC training fits naturally with the work that we do. They coaches are responsive to the needs of their learners while not compromising the work, and they always ensure the goal of understanding is at the forefront of the work.”
Nicole says that incorporating the PEBC workshop model in the classroom has been a game-changer for students, who are now encouraged to think on their own. The model, she says, is about problem solving and collaboration, adding that, “Our work with PEBC totally put us ahead of the curve.”
The PEBC Thinking Strategies Institute is another device Nicole credits with expanding the circle of influence for her teachers, which has fostered conversation, enriched meaning, and improved understanding transforming already good teachers into great educators. According to Nicole, every teacher who has been trained by PEBC has come back to the classroom excited, motivated, and reenergized.
“I have never once had a teacher walk out of a PEBC professional development course and say it was a waste of time,” she says. “It’s not canned professional development. It’s quality, research-based work that is customized and differentiated. The teachers always say (the training) was the best thing ever.”