Twin Hills Charter Middle School's Nicole Ellwood

Twin Hills Charter Middle School's Nicole Ellwood
April 4, 2014, 1:45 pm
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Meet Twin Hills Charter Middle School's Nicole Ellwood, one of five finalists to become Comcast SportsNet's 2014 All-Star Teacher.

Editor's note: Vote for your All-Star teacher! The winner will receive $20,000 for his or her school, courtesy Comcast SportsNet and Provident Credit Union.

I have been privileged to teach special education classes at Twin Hills Charter Middle School in Sebastopol, CA. I am in my seventeenth year of teaching middle school students. This year my schedule includes teaching math, reading and directed studies to students with disabilities. Individualized Education Plans and 504s are also under my care. I am in the unique situation of teaching my students for three years, which provides a wonderful opportunity to see their growth!

I first became interested in teaching while I was completing my general education courses at Santa Rosa Junior College. I was fortunate to be hired part time in a classroom for high school students with severe disabilities. I fell in love with working with special needs students! It was very rewarding to work with students who enjoyed being in school, worked hard to overcome their obstacles and had an appreciation for life. I went on to teach students with mild learning disabilities and autism. I knew from this experience that I wanted to support students during their educational journey. My teaching has been focused on helping students discover their strengths, supporting their ability to persevere through the challenging times and mentoring them to become individuals with strong character and morals.

It has been my experience that the success of my students is strengthened by my ability to model working with others, demonstrate leadership skills and provide them with a positive role model. I am part of my school’s Leadership Team. I have been a master teacher for student teachers. I have been an IEP coach and BTSA provider through Sonoma County Office of Education. I was the recipient of the TEACH California Distinguished Teacher award and Teacher of the Month for our local Mix 104.9 radio station.

One of my outside interests is giving back to my community and instilling this idea in my students. Six generations of my family have lived in our community so it is close to my heart to demonstrate giving back! I want my students to learn to give back to their community be it classroom, school, town or country. For ten years, I set up school dances. I organize the Grad Night celebration evening for parents and students. I work with the physical education department to organize the annual Twin Hills Olympics, which is a school-wide team building track and field event. Last year, I started the Interact Club sponsored by our local Rotary. Through the club, I support students in learning leadership skills and the importance of giving back to their community. Under my supervision, the Interact students have done campus clean up, Adopt a Family at the holidays, Pennies for Patience for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, pizza nights for Polio Plus and have made donations to a local family to support medical bills after a tragic car accident. My classroom students also help organize the annual 10 Days of Giving program in which the whole school donates gifts, food and monetary items to twenty families from our school. Lastly, I was able to take 7th and 8th grade students to Washington DC for nine years. It was a wonderful experience to be able to show them community and leadership on a larger scale!

After attending the Santa Rosa Junior College, I transferred to Arizona State University where I received a BAE in Special Education. I completed my Level II credential at Sonoma State University. Additional education has included receiving my CLAD and Autism Authorization. I hope to one day pursue an administrative credential.