08:15 AM

Secondary Ed Student Ready to Embrace Future

Nicole Hatcher’s future was right there in front of her at an early age. Positive experiences with teachers at Bellevue East High School and Birchcrest Elementary School, both within shouting distance of the Bellevue University campus, helped lead her to the new Secondary Education edorsement available at the hometown university.

Today, Hatcher is a senior in the University’s Health and Human Performance program and is pursuing her Secondary Education endorsement on top of that degree.

“I grew up two minutes away from here. I have aunts and uncles that went here, so I’ve always been around Bellevue University,” Hatcher said.

The advent of the Secondary Education option peaked Hatcher’s interest in her hometown school and a BRUIN Community scholarship award helped seal the deal.

“In the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to be a teacher,” Hatcher said. “A professor at Bellevue University, Dr. Brenda Mechels, let me know that there was talk of Secondary Education being implemented here as a career choice. I kept tabs on it from that point forward.”

“I had teachers at East who were an advocate for me and cared a lot about me,” Hatcher said. “I know, especially in our day and age, teachers have a lot of impact on students. I just really feel that's my calling. Teaching is a lot more than just the curriculum and the subject. It's teaching life skills and it's being there for students.”

Hatcher said she is getting that same kind of reinforcement from her Bellevue University professors.

“Dr. Erin McDonnell-Jones is who I think of when I think of a great teacher,” Hatcher said. “I really enjoy her classes and she comes very prepared. She knows what she's talking about. Beyond the lessons that she teaches, she does an incredible job of exemplifying what a teacher should be. I think that is so important.”

While Hatcher has not done any student teaching yet, she has completed 40-, 60-, and 80-hour practicums at Gretna High School, the Alpha School in Omaha, and Brownell-Talbot in Omaha.

“I really enjoyed those,” Hatcher said. “It was the first one I did at Gretna when I knew this was what I’m supposed to be doing. You can take classes and learn, but until you're actually there in the environment, that’s when you get a feel for ‘is this where I'm supposed to be or not?’ It really helped me to see that this is where I should be in my life.”

During the practicums, Hatcher conducted a few short lessons and led some warm-ups and activities during some physical education classes.

“All the teachers that I've worked with at the high schools have been so supportive. They want me to buy into their class. They want me to help out as much as I can and grow as much as I can in that environment,” Hatcher said.

Following graduation Hatcher hopes to land a job as a Health and Physical Education teacher. While she is open to relocating, she still sees a great future right in front of her.

“I love the whole Omaha area, Bellevue, Gretna, everything. I would love to stay here. My heart is here.”