Kean graduate Halkias named teacher of the year

Nicole Halkias has been recognized as teacher of the year at Brookside Place school. Photo courtesy of Kean University

Nicole Halkias has been recognized as teacher of the year at Brookside Place school. Photo courtesy of Kean University

By Gail Fredricks | Published April 7, 2017

Nicole Halkias, a graduate of Kean University, wanted to be a graduate for many year and recognized for teacher of the year in Cranford.

Halkias is now a fifth grade teacher and has been recognized as Teacher of the Year at Brookside Place School in Cranford.

An anonymous nomination came from a parent of one of her students, who took the time to write out a nomination letter in recognition of the love and passion Halkias has for the job.

“I had no idea that I was nominated,” said Halkias. “My principal walked in one morning and gave me the news. I was so excited.”

This is not the first time Halkias received a bachelor’s in 1994 and her Master’s in 1998 from Kean, where she has been recognized for her excellence in teaching. She was named Student Teacher of the Year at Kean University in 1993, and in 1998 in her previous district.

“I am just so appreciative of a people seeing what I love doing,” said Halkias.

Halkias has been teaching since 1994. She taught for nine years in Linden as a first grade teacher. After taking five years off when giving birth to triplets, she went back and taught Kindergarten for two years, and has been teaching fifth grade for the past six years in Cranford.

Halkias gives credit to Kean University and her professors for the preparation it gave her for her teaching career. Being placed in different districts for her fieldwork, she was able to see different environments and teaching styles.

“Dr. Michael Searson, being one of the best professors a student could ever have, gave me such a great opportunity,” said Halkias.

Dr. Searson asked Halkias to co-author a chapter in a book he was writing on technology in the classroom, something Halkias said she would always be grateful for. Halkias realized how important technology was in the classroom back in 1991 through Pearson’s classes and teaching style, which put passion in her.

“Every time I learn something new in technology I always say to myself, ‘Dr. Searson would be so proud.”

Another professor Halkias gives credit to is Dr. Debbie Allen, who showed her how to see what was important in each child. Dr. Allen used to tell her, “Each child has something to offer, and you my little chickadee, need to find it and go with it.”

Twenty years later, Halkias said she looks at her students each year and finds their “thing” and uses that to teach them, using what Dr. Allen instilled in her.

Following this award, Halkias is currently running for Union County Teacher of the Year, and New Jersey State Teacher of the year if she is selected. Halkias plans to grow as an educator by attending summer workshops and working closely with Cranford’s literacy and math coaches to stay updated of new ways of teaching, being aware of new theories and developments that will help her and her students.

“I will continue to give 200 percent of myself to my students,” said Halkias. “And make learning fun.”

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