Ms. Nicky Willis, Educator, Receives Community Hero Award

This morning, with the Carbon Valley Rotary, we celebrated 4 community heroes, all who have done the good work of being a great community member. However, one was most important to us -- Nicky Willis, one of our preschool teachers, who received an Outstanding Educator award. Read more about here nomination here:

Nicky Willis is a preschool educator who has worked at Spark! Discovery Preschool since our opening in the fall of 2013. She started as a paraprofessional in her first year and has been teaching preschool for the last five years. For the last five years she has been engaged in bringing in the community to our school in order to support students in making meaningful connections and build students’ background knowledge. She is a community hero to our students and families at Spark! Discovery Preschool. This is because she consistently integrates members of the community into her preschool classroom at Spark! Discovery Preschool in order to help them build background knowledge.
For each STEM unit of learning, she brings in experts, role models, mentors, or new experiences. During a unit on transportation, she arranged for a school bus to come to school. Most of our students don’t ride buses to school and have never been on a bus. During a STEM unit on Music, she organized a field trip to Thunder Valley K-8 so students could see and hear a band and orchestra play, as well as hear the different types of instruments. To develop a love of music in her students, she recently posted on the NextDoor app for a music teacher to come provide music classes in the classroom. After proper volunteer training, this teacher, a community volunteer, comes to Ms. Nicky’s class to engage students in meaningful and engaging music lessons in a year-long partnership. In a unit called Buildings, she found volunteers to bring in their construction vehicles so children could see the equipment used to build buildings. She has brought in wood workers to show how they build things using tools.
Her students can be observed using iPads in engaging, creative ways – Google Maps, FeltBoard, NearPod, Google Earth, Osmo, and more. Recently, she hosted a Thanksgiving luncheon with all the students and families in her class taking time to develop these relationships and give preschoolers a new and interesting experience they don’t normally have at school. I appreciate how she deliberately works to meaningfully engage our preschoolers, while also creating meaningful partnerships with community members of the Carbon Valley. She truly views the classroom and our school as a part of the community, and this has had long-lasting impacts on our school and students.