By Patty Rice Groth
In the 1980s, extended kindergarten students were helped along their paths to success by a young teacher, Melinda Nicholls. She graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1981, and taught briefly at St. Joseph Elementary School before joining the teaching team of Galion City School District. Funded by Title I, the program she provided was intervention for children who were getting off to a slower start, perhaps because they had not had a preschool experience. Title I also funds one-to-one recovery programs for students struggling with reading.
Over the years of her teaching career, Nicholls was one of the smiling faculty members at three of Galion former elementary buildings – Dawsett, Wilma Crall and Renschville. She is ending her teaching career at Galion Primary School.
She is married to Mike Nicholls, and the couple has two sons — Alex and Jack. Now that both have graduated from University of Mount Union, Nicholls says she will be able to use her Saturdays for something other than football games!
Her plan for retirement is to continue working with the charities with which she is already involved, and is committed to adding nothing new for at least one year! Considering her list of commitments outside the school room and her family, that still will not leave much leisure time. Nicholls serves on the board of the United Way of Crawford County, mentors youth and families through the Getting Ahead Crawford County program, working hard to eliminate generational poverty. Getting Ahead Crawford County is part of the Bridges Out of Poverty program.
Nicholls is also on the team of people who sew Dream Hats. These wonderful caps are made of comfortable cotton fabrics for use by people who are experiencing hair loss due to illness. She hopes to expand her involvement in Dream Hats at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. That effort will require 300-400 hats ready to go when the program is launched.
As she had made a difference in the lives of Galion’s youngsters, Nicholls wants to be involved in projects which support families, especially during times of loss.
She had been extended the special privilege of participating in teacher interviews. It was her sincere hope she would be able to pass many of these things to her successor. At press time, news of the district’s two new kindergarten teachers was not available for publication.
Nicholls will carry with her memories of the innocence of her students, and the sweet things they say. She will miss the hugs most of all.
Like so many of her colleagues, she will not miss the increased paperwork, and the stress of being involved in a new evaluation system of teachers. Nicholls admits she will not miss the early morning rush either. She plans to pass along most of the books, stuffed animals, craft supplies and other teaching tools developed over the 33 years of her career to her successor and fellow teachers. Each of her students has been rewarded for simple achievements – good behavior, acts of kindness and such – with gifts from her collection of more than 300 books for children.