Nicole Owens, a geometry teacher at West High, has received the Teacher Of the Year award. Other than teaching geometry, she connects her students with the community and prepares them for their future. She has achieved this by participating in events and clubs, as well as contributing to projects at West High.
Owens has been a BETA Club co-sponsor for five years, and it has given her numerous opportunities to connect her students with the community. She publicized, “Students have participated in Thanksgiving food drives, clothing drives that provide for coats for winter months, and countless volunteer hours throughout Hamblen County.”
Another way Owens has connected her students with the community is by attending their sporting events. She runs the jumbotron at all home football games and announces boys’ soccer.
For the past four years she has taught a group of senior students with special needs in an inclusion-based classroom. “These students can often feel segregated,” Owens explained, “It’s my job to make sure they feel wanted and that they’re more than just a test score.”
Owens attended a week-long internship where she toured numerous factories around Hamblen County. She confided, “It was an eye-opening experience to see the many career paths that a lot of my students take after they graduate high school.” By participating in this opportunity, she has been able to have a deeper connection with her students.
Owens affirmed that she has had the opportunity to create numerous programs that have helped improve West High’s culture surrounding ACT testing. She visited homerooms and learned that many students wanted to improve their ACT scores and apply for scholarships but couldn’t find resources.
As a result, she has created ACT/scholarship bulletin boards filled with practice tests available that are available to all students. The scholarship board is updated weekly with new scholarships for students to apply for. Furthermore, Owens has revamped the ACT peer tutoring program where students tutor their peers to increase their composite scores. She has a YouTube channel as well as a Google Site where she posts resources for students. She also has an ACT library where students can borrow ACT prep books or donate their old ACT prep materials to help fellow students. Inevitably, she has become known as the, “ACT Queen.”
Owens specified, “I know my students are successful in my content area because I’ve been able to see them grow their ACT scores to unlock a multitude of postsecondary opportunities.” When ACT scores are available, students run down the hall to her room shouting their scores as loud as they can. Students who take her class gain, on average, 2-3 overall composite points with most students pushing their scores well over a 21.
She earned her undergraduate degree in math secondary education from Maryville College and a Master’s degree in curriculum and development from Carson-Newman College.
Owens is married to her high school sweetheart, Hagin. They live in Dandridge with their puppy, Sadie. Her hobbies include cooking and playing disc golf.