LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Nicole Mikkelson

Position: Kindergarten Teacher
School: Agua Caliente Elementary School
School District: Tanque Verde Unified School District
City, State: Tucson, AZ

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Nicole Mikkelson was nominated by Andrea McGowan, a member of the community.

Ms. Mikkelson is a kindergarten teacher in the community of Tucson, AZ. She is an educator who has an unrelenting desire to make schools a safe, fun and productive place for all children. In response to the state-wide teachers strike in Arizona, Ms. Mikkelson spoke about the personal struggles she faces as an educator.  

"When people find out I teach kindergarten, they almost always say, 'oh how fun, you get to play all day,'" Ms. Mikkelson said. "The problem is that districts don’t have the funding to purchase the appropriate curriculum that supports all of the standards that we have to teach. So we look for other resources to supplement outdated materials. We purchase our own curriculum."

Today, Ms. Mikkelson teaches in Tanque Verde Unified School District.

"Our governing board is super supportive, as well as our superintendent," said Ms. Mikkelson. "They know the need for curriculum and are working hard to find additional funds to purchase them for us, but we still spend the money to make sure the kids are getting the information. And we don’t just teach the standards. In kindergarten, we teach them how to get their lunch in the lunchroom, how to trust someone other than their parent...and how to hide from an active shooter. We promise that we will keep them safe. This is one of the hardest things to teach."

"On our practice lock-down days, when I am hiding with the kids in a corner, I am always whispering to them that it will be ok and to stay quiet when the people walking around bang on our doors,” said Ms. Mikkelson I sit with kids all around me, holding my hand, sitting as close as they can get to me. Even though they know it’s just practice it’s scary."

Ms. Mikkelson believes teaching is not just a job, but a lifestyle.

"You have to have the passion," she says. "Our dream schedule is anything but. We answer emails/calls all afternoon, have conferences and meetings, and attend workshops/seminars to make sure we get our hours for recertification in. We have IEP meetings and team meetings, and we have to plan when our kids are in specials.”

"I go home and worry about kids who are sick. I wonder what was going on with that one kiddo that day because he just wasn’t himself," Ms. Mikkelson said. "I’m always thinking about them. I hope that you would want your child’s teacher to do that as well. I always want to be the teacher that I want my kids to have... we want them to love school. And the fact is, if funding doesn’t come through, more people will be put in the classroom without certifications and without the passion that it takes to be a teacher. If teachers don’t get the support they should have, people who have no business being teachers and are just there for the 'schedule and paycheck,' will be the ones teaching the kids- our future."

"I love my job," Ms. Mikkelson said. "I love my school and my district. I feel so blessed that we have the parent support that other schools don’t have."

Comments (12)

Cindy Kelley Posted over a year ago

Nicole Mikkelson, like so many teachers, puts her whole heart and soul into her job. She is at school early, stays late and spends numerous Saturdays and Sunday afternoons making sure her students have a classroom they love to come to everyday. She understands and appreciates that she is the first impression her kindergartners have of school -and does everything she can to make their first year of learning a solid foundation going forward. She is definitely a life changer for both her students and their parents.

Miranda Posted over a year ago

Congrats and Kudos!!! You have an incredibly important job and do it well!!

Alicia Lucht Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Mikkelson is absolutely amazing! My son was blessed to have her as his Kindergarten teacher last year. The growth he made under her guidance and support was a beautiful thing to watch! Thank you Mrs. Mikkelson!

Valerie Chandler Posted over a year ago

Your heart and soul goes into everything you do Nicole! All your students are the absolute luckiest!! Congratulations on your nominee! ??

Mary Vuke Posted over a year ago

Ms Mickelson has been a light in my grandson life. She understands that some of his unique behaviors are because he is,gifted, not just a problem! Thanks to her, he continues to love learning!

Brett Miller Posted over a year ago

Congrats on being nominated, Nicole!!! Well deserved. Thank you for what you do and impacting so many young lives. You are truly appreciated.

Eric Mikkelson Posted over a year ago

I am so proud of my wife.... I hope this makes people realize that her job is not about a paycheck but that it is a paid for sculpting young minds and our future.

arlene doran Posted over a year ago

Congratulations and certainly a well deserved honor!!! Your words speak for so many and how mice to have someone value and appreciate all you do and are for those precious kiddos!!! Hopefully #REDforED educated many and will continue!

Kathryn Posted over a year ago

This lady is a rock star. I’ve gotten to know her as a colleague, parent, and now, friend. She deserves to be recognized!

Glenda Hawkins Posted over a year ago

I’ve known Nicole since she was a little girl. As a teenager, she babysat for my granddaughter when she was a toddler. Even at that young age, her passion for children was obvious. She didn’t just sit and watch TV. Through play, she was unknowingly teaching! She has chosen to be a teacher because she truly cares for her students wellbeing! Each one is blessed to have her in their lives. Nicole’s is a perfect example of what a “teacher” should be!

Anita Lehrer Posted over a year ago

Bravo Ms. Mikkelson! As a retired, fellow educator of 34 years, I applaud your loving, positive attitude. It is a challenge juggling all the aspects of teaching but you have also found the joy of seeing those precious children learn and grow! You wanting to be the kind of teacher you'd want for your own child says so much! Trust me, the years go fast! Enjoy!

Cindy Kelley Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Mikkelson is exactly the kind of teacher children need!