Amber Nichols, a kindergarten teacher at Eastwood Elementary School in Morgantown, has been honored as the 2023 West Virginia Teacher of the Year. The announcement came during a special ceremony at the West Virginia Culture Center in Charleston, where members of the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE)and other education officials gathered to celebrate excellence in education.
With 21 years of teaching experience, Nichols has made a significant impact on her students and the educational community. Her dedication to creating an enriching classroom environment where all students feel safe, loved, and appreciated has been a hallmark of her teaching approach. Nichols firmly believes in setting rigorous academic and social-emotional goals for each child in her class.
“They love me because I’m Mrs. Nichols, not because I’m Teacher of the Year, which is exactly what I want. To get to be someone’s person is a huge responsibility, but it’s such a gift. So to me, the most important part of teaching is getting to be someone’s role model or their example,” said Nichols.
As the 2023 West Virginia Teacher of the Year, Amber Nichols will receive various accolades and rewards, including a vehicle from Toyota Motor Manufacturing, West Virginia, for her use throughout the year. Additionally, she will receive financial contributions from Highmark West Virginia, the Horace Mann Companies, the West Virginia Education Association, West Virginia State Parks, West Virginia Professional Educators, and the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia. Nichols’ achievements also extend to supporting her fellow finalists and county winners, who will receive grants and gifts to further enhance their educational efforts.
Superintendent of Schools David L. Roach praised Nichols for her exceptional qualities as an educator, stating, “Mrs. Nichols is an excellent educator and a true representative of the incredible teachers across the state. She fully embodies the qualities and intent of this prestigious award. She cares deeply for her students and community, and I believe she will be an inspiration for many. I appreciate her diligent work in our public schools.”
Amber Nichols plans to use her newfound platform to advocate for teacher recruitment and retention in West Virginia. She believes in attracting talented individuals to the teaching profession and fostering an environment that appreciates and values educators’ contributions. “I really want to go around the state and promote teacher recruitment and retention… that’s the message I really want to spread around the state,” said Nichols.
Also honored during the ceremony was Jessica Grose, who was named West Virginia School Service Personnel of the Year. Grose is a special education aide at Hodgesville Elementary School. With 11 years of experience in her job, Grose said she values providing service and nothing compares to being present each day to offer consistent support to her students.
As the 2023 West Virginia Teacher of the Year, Amber Nichols will also represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition, where she will showcase the exceptionalism and dedication of West Virginia’s educators on a national stage.