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Pinewood Elementary's Shelly Nikolas named Teacher of the Month

Shelly Nikolas Tells us a little about yourself?

I am originally from Hayti, SD and grew up in a family of 4 with one brother. I attended college at Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD to earn my dual teaching degree in Special Education and Elementary Education. I earned my Master’s Degree in 2002 from St Mary’s University in Winona. As part of my Master’s program, I worked with the University of MN to help write the Para Core Competency Training Program and traveled teaching paraprofessionals across central Minnesota. I have been teaching for 25 years. I taught one year in Britton South Dakota and the rest of my years have been at Pinewood Elementary in Monticello. I live in St Cloud, MN and have 3 sons. Alex is a senior at SDSU in Brookings,SD , Austin is a freshman at NDSU in Fargo where he plays baseball and my youngest Arik is in 8th grade at South Junior High.  In my free time I enjoy cooking, traveling, watching my boys play sports, and traveling to South Dakota to hunt, fish and spend time with my family.

Why did you choose the teaching profession?


Since I was a young girl, I wanted to be a teacher. I remember saving all of my papers from school just so I could play teacher/school at home. I love working with children and helping others.  I also had some wonderful teachers growing up who demonstrated the rewards of the profession. I enjoy making a difference in the lives of my students and families.

What is the best thing about teaching in Monticello?

Monticello is a wonderful place to work!  My colleagues and paraprofessionals are amazing! Monticello School District has staff that are truly kind and compassionate. They are quick to help out and support you whatever the situation.  I am fortunate to have opportunities to be in classrooms learning from colleagues and challenged to be a better teacher each day. Monticello is truly a district that is connected on every level for the benefit of students. The relationships among staff are powerful and uplifting with a feel of family.  Working together to put students first and collaboration among all teaching areas is so powerful. Monticello also has strong academic achievements and community involvement and support, which strengthens the experience for our students and staff.

What is your proudest moment as a teacher?

Teaching is such a rewarding profession. I love watching my students make growth in their learning, daily living skills and overall independence.  You can see successes across all areas academically, socially and emotionally. I also enjoy the excitement as students learn to read for the first time or master a skill they have worked hard to accomplish.  Having past students and families return to visit and watching their successes after they have left our school is very heartwarming.

What advice would you give a young adult who is thinking about a teaching career?


Teaching is a rewarding profession where you have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students and families. You will be a role model and inspiration to how well they learn.  Teaching is about building relationships with students and families. There has to be trust with all people working together as a team. It is our responsibility to be patient, individualize learning, make connections, praise and encourage each student. You will need to constantly reflect and make adjustments to meet the needs of your students and families regularly. Every child can learn and will learn in their own unique way. Children will always remember the connection you made with them and how you make them feel while they are in your classroom.