One in a Million: January 2023 – Nicole Marrs


One In A Million Feature Questions

Name: Nicole Marrs               

School: Madrid Neighborhood School

Grade: 4th

How long have you been a teacher?
10 years

What made you get into the teaching profession?
As cliché as it sounds, I entered teaching because I wanted to make a difference for students as some of my teachers did for me. I had teachers growing up who grew my love for learning, who helped me to become the resilient adult I am today & who taught me that there was more to me than the just the tests that I took and the grades that showed on my report card.  I wanted to do the same for others because I am truly who I am because of the some of those experiences.

Who was your most inspirational teacher and why?
My third- grade teacher, Ms. Henberger, made a difference in my educational career growing up. I remember school was more than academics for her. She planned lessons and activities that were so fun as a 9-year-old and, thinking about it from a teacher’s lens, really improved our classroom community. She instilled values that helped us grow as learners and people. Many of her activities were tied to showing kindness and empathy, how to be a good friend, and having a growth mindset & preserve through challenges.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges teachers in Arizona face right now?
The greatest challenge teachers are facing in Arizona right now is how to recover from the loss of learning and decreased social/emotional skills that took place during the covid-19 pandemic.

How do these issues affect your day to day?
The recovery process to decease learning gaps has been extremely challenging. The learning gaps from student to student widely varies, as does their social and emotional needs. Each day there’s a large of interventions and supports that need to be put into place to make sure students feel successful and cared for emotionally.

What does the $250 tax deduction for school supplies for teachers mean to you?
The $250 dollar tax deductions allow me to purchase new school supplies & materials for my classroom and for my students each school year.  It helps me feel prepared to take another year & allows my students to feel taken care of when they step into my classroom.

How are the expectations of becoming a teacher different from reality?
Teaching is an incredibly rewarding career, but it’s also incredibly difficult. Being a teacher is more than just teaching students the core subjects. There’s a balance of meeting student’s needs academically, while also providing safety, consistency, and opportunities for social & emotional learning. In all areas, students’ needs vary so differently each year and from year to year.  Teaching also includes there as a listening ear, helping students develop critical problem-solving skills & to be their cheerleader for the big and the little moments. It’s about helping students see their own greatness and to be there along the way to hold their hand throughout the journey.

Teaching also requires a higher level of adaptability and flexibility than some may think. Things in this profession will not always go our way and that’s how ok. Not every lesson or moment will be perfect, but that’s truly the beauty in it all.

Why do you think teachers burn out so quickly?
I believe teachers burn out so quickly because of the demands that come with being a teacher. There is always so much to do and it often feels like there’s not enough time to do it. Teaching also comes with an unbelievably high emotional demand.  Self-care gets put on the backburner & I believe teachers are reaching levels of exhaustion and feeling too overworked to be able to find the joy in the profession. I also believe feelings of underappreciation contribute to teacher burnout, as well as, challenging student behaviors, low levels of school funding/low teacher pay & unattainable goals related to standardized testing.

What “fills your cup” when you’re running on empty?
Spending time with family & friends, working out & reading a good book.

What are some of the most thoughtful and effective ways parents and the community can show gratitude?

Parents and the community can show gratitude by valuing the difficult work done by teachers. Parents can show their gratitude by offering words of praise & the community can show support by advocating for teachers and their needs.

What is your wish for Arizona’s children?

My wish for Arizona’s children is that they always feel loved, cared for & receive high quality education that lights their spark. Arizona’s child can and will do great things, as long as they have someone supporting them along the way!

What additional support or supplies do you need in your classroom and who do people contact if they want to help out?

Basic school supplies, k-8 literature & non-fiction books & STEM activities/opportunities would help out tremendously.

Please contact Madrid Neighborhood School for ways to help!


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