Meet Nicole Kuhlmeier, the coolest math teacher in town! Not only does she teach Consumer Math to her students, but she also doubles as a Perler Bead master, teaching the art of “pixel art” as her Flex mentoring activity. With all the colors in the rainbow at her disposal, she and her students create works of art, from classic characters to 3D planets. But don’t be fooled, Nicole is a self-taught Perler Bead pro, and her students view her as a seasoned expert, asking questions and soaking up her knowledge. With a wall filled with their designs, Nicole has created a sense of community in her classroom, and her students take pride in adding their creations to the collection.

Nicole Kuhlmeier is a Special Education Mathematics Teacher at The Summit School who has been working here since September 2017. She started as a TA and has been teaching for the past year. Her passion for working in the mental health field led her to Summit, and after a few years, she decided to pursue a career in teaching. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UNC Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in Math Special Education, allowing her to combine her interests in both fields.

In her role as a teacher, Nicole has learned that every student has a different background and set of struggles, and she finds it rewarding to build character and relationships with her students. She takes a creative approach to teaching, always looking for ways to break through their tough exterior and tailor her instruction to meet their learning needs. In the summer, she started using perler beads as an activity during Flex, which has become a popular way for her to connect with her students over a shared interest.

Nicole has learned to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, and works every day to build on student strengths, work through peer or life issues, and help her students reach their full potential.

Her approach has had a remarkable impact on her students, as evidenced by a card she received from a former student named Paige who graduated in June 2018. The student wrote, “You are honestly my favorite person to talk to when I’m upset, partly because I know you really care, and partly because you are the only person who consistently asks me if I’m fine even after I’ve told you I’m fine 10 times. I know that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is to me.”

Overall, Nicole’s experience at Summit has shown her the importance of understanding and supporting students who have gone through trauma in their lives and that with the right guidance and support, they can become the best version of themselves.