E4E Teachers Talk Back: Nicole Gant
Nicole Gant began teaching English at Port of Los Angeles High School this year after teaching at Banning High School for eight years.
How has a dedicated teacher made a difference for you?
Growing up, school was not my favorite thing until I had a couple of teachers that invested in me and helped change my perspective. The first was Ms. Alvarenga, my 10th Grade English teacher. She gave me feedback on my writing and helped me to feel validated as a writer and inspired to improve my writing craft. Another teacher, Mr. Sanders, would teach reading in a way that inspired me to read more, he made all of our readings interesting. He also convinced me to write for the student newspaper, would read all my articles and give me feedback, and this is where I really found my niche in writing, and I came to love coming to school!
Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I originally went to college to follow Mr. Sanders’ example to become a journalist. However, as I began to think about the impact Mr. Sanders had on me, I knew that I wanted to do the same for my students. I wanted to be a teacher because I had the best one! I have always taught in the same community I grew up in.
Why do you enjoy teaching?
I like finding ways to engage students in reading and writing. Nothing inspires me more than to hear my students say, “Ms. Gant, this is the first book I ever read!” or “Ms. Gant, I can’t believe I actually wrote eight essays this semester!” I encourage my students to enjoy reading and writing and tell them that if they can write a 1500 word essay, they can do anything. The cornerstone of increasing student achievement is getting them to engage in school and learning so that they are motivated and equipped to chase their dreams.
Why did you join E4E?
I want to be a part of an organization that advocates for teachers as I do for my students. For the last three years, in spite of the hard work and dedication I displayed to my students and the results that came from it, I was told I was to be laid off without a second glance. There was no recognition of all that I did and I felt that I was being treated only as a number, and as much as I love being a teacher I began to contemplate leaving the profession. If teachers are to feel validated in the profession there needs to be a system of evaluation that encourages teachers to improve and get the feedback that they need. Teachers also need to be treated as more than a number and should be given recognition for helping students to achieve and the contributions offered to a school. E4E advocates for these things and I am proud to work with them to elevate the profession and advocate for the needs of the teachers and students.