LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Nikki Upchurch

Position: Sixth Grade ELA / Social Studies Teacher
School: Forest Hills Middle School
School District: Wilson County Schools
City, State: Wilson, NC

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Nikki Upchurch was nominated by her colleague, Kari McCollough.

Ms. Upchurch is an inspiration to her students and colleagues, both current and past. She has taught several grades and subject areas throughout the years at her school with no complaints due to her flexibility and numerous certifications. She moves classrooms willingly and teaches whatever she is asked to teach with expertise and precision.

Ms. Upchurch goes above and beyond in her classroom each day by getting the students motivated and working on a variety of different projects and assignments in a fun and creative way. She plans local trips for the students to see things they normally would never get the opportunity to see, and she creates hands-on experiences they will never forget. She uses technology to teach the students how to explore the world around them safely and gain more information on what they are studying to expand their mind and inspire them to work hard and achieve.

Ms. Upchurch gets many students who struggle academically and behaviorally each year, and she does a great job managing them with her great classroom management skills. When she is not in her classroom, she is tutoring students in the community that are struggling academically. She also works tirelessly with the school BETA students to challenge them academically.  She spends countless hours after school and on weekends working with these students, helping them create projects in a variety of different areas.

This year, she took her BETA students to the state BETA competition. They did so well that they're now eligible to attend the national competition! As soon as her students got the invitation to go to Oklahoma for the national competition, Ms. Upchurch began fundraising. In the past two months, she has raised half of the money needed to take the students on the trip, doing numerous fundraisers with community businesses and asking community organizations for assistance. She has worked hard to raise money so her students can afford to go to the competition. Many of the students come from low-income homes, and without her hard work and dedication, they would not be able to go. Students who haven't even left their community can now travel to a city and a state they have only read about.

"Ms. Upchurch lives the life of a teacher by working hard to enrich her current, past and future students' lives," said McCollough. "She is giving them a step up instead of a handout with all the encouragement, activities and deeds she does in the community. She reaches all students and helps them excel in everything they do."