Energy, passion drive Havert to pull the best out of her students
Students quickly learn what to expect when they walk into Nicole Havert’s seventh-grade math classroom at Liberty Bell. Havert’s passion, excitement and intensity introduce her students to a fun and safe space where they are free to try, fail and ultimately succeed.
“My ideology is that if you make a student feel they can do anything without the fear of being put down, then the student will feel free to express themselves and take the chance to learn,” Havert said. “Learning can be very scary for some students because their peers seem to think it’s funny when someone makes a mistake. In my classroom, we try to take the fear out of learning.”
Those attributes are some of the reasons that Havert was named Johnson City Schools’ Teacher of the Year for grades 5-8. She is joined by Lake Ridge teacher Melissa Preudhomme (Grades K-4) and Science Hill’s David Burgin (Grades 9-12) as the Teachers of the Year honorees for Johnson City Schools.
While Havert’s exuberant personality makes her unbelievably comfortable teaching a subject that can make students uneasy, she was still a bit surprised when she heard she’d received the honor of Grades 5-8 Teacher of the Year.
“I was surprised, but I am beyond thankful,” Havert said. “I truly believe that I am surrounded by phenomenal teachers and I know that the other teachers who were up for the award are phenomenal teachers as well.”
But Havert has been known to go the extra mile. She hosts a weekly afterschool study session, Havert’s Help, for math students, and the sessions are often led by her former students. Havert also takes pride in providing a classroom space that is safe, secure and supportive for students. That is why she implemented Havert’s Homecourt, which is a classroom environment where everyone is a teammate and respect is the number one priority. In Havert’s room, students receive a “foul” for disrespectful behavior and they then have to say four nice things in 30 seconds to the person they offended, or they get an assignment to help others.
Havert has taught seventh-grade math at Liberty Bell for the past five years, but before joining Liberty Bell, Havert spent 25 years teaching in various grade levels, subjects and states, including art in Ohio and a little bit of everything in Alaska. But Havert’s heart wasn’t always set on becoming a teacher. Even though she makes the 4th generation to teach in her family and has fond memories of spending time in her mother’s classroom, leading a classroom wasn’t on her mind when she attended the University of Cincinnati on a golf scholarship. But she quickly learned that golf needed more time than her art and design major, so she pursued a different route as an art teacher. Getting in the classroom rekindled the passion she had for education and she has been teaching and mentoring ever since.
Havert continues to add to her teaching toolbox as she is a member of the inaugural Johnson City Schools Technology Teachers Leaders’ Academy. In that role, she helps teachers at Liberty Bell and across the district learn about the different tech tools they have at their disposal.
She also takes pride in adding to her students’ toolbox as she uses real-world scenarios to help students understand why they need to know math and how they will use it.
“I believe in connecting mathematics to the real-world and the seventh-grade curriculum offers several opportunities to use our community ties,” Havert said. “Bringing community members in, including car salesman and bankers, is a way for students to see how much of what we learn they will actually use in the real world.”
Preparing her students for the real world and offering students a safe place to become the best they can be will always to cornerstones of Havert’s classroom.
“I don’t believe that students fail if they get the wrong answer,” Havert said. “They only fail if they don’t try.”