While many of my classes this semester featured some of my favorite professors, there were also some new professors that I was eager to meet. One of these new professors is now one of my favorite teachers.
When Professor Nichter introduced himself, he told our class many wonderful and entertaining stories, accompanied by a lot of humor. He also told us some of the struggles that he encountered as a grade-level teacher. However, there was one comment that stood out the most to me. Professor Nichter told us that when he was teaching, people would ask him what he taught. His response was always, “A lot about life with a little bit of math.”
As a possible future educator, this was definitely one of the most amazing things I have ever heard. Life is extremely valuable, and he understands that. This is why I wanted to have my first professor spotlight to be that of Professor Nichter. I had the opportunity to sit down and interview Professor Nichter about his life, his passion for teaching, and his aspirations to constantly help others.
Professor Nichter’s aspirations to become a teacher began with his love for serving others in the Air Force. While serving our country, Professor Nichter realized that he had a decision to make — to sit back and watch the world pass by or strive to make a difference. He decided he would go to school and get a degree, even if it would take 31 years and nine colleges, alongside serving 24 years in the Air Force. He became an adjunct professor at Regent after teaching for many years in Chesapeake public schools and now teaches within both the Math and Education departments at Regent. He also serves as the Social Ministry Director for the Church of the Holy Apostles.
Along with every fact that Professor Nichter relayed came a story. Why he came to Regent, the influence that his faith has in his classroom, the integration of humor in his lessons, his hobbies, and even a bit of advice were all encapsulated in the interview. Here are some of the highlights of the interview:
Q: What is your favorite memory of being a teacher?
A: There is never one actual real point that is my favorite, but watching a student realize that he or she understands what I am trying to convey becomes the highlight of my day and brings me back every day to teach. Watching people light up as they understand the subject matter never gets old. Ever.
Q: Why are you at Regent? Why did you switch from teaching Secondary Education to College?
A: When they started the undergraduate portion, two of my colleagues were asked to teach online and they wanted me to teach with them, but I was a little leery. In 2009 I decided to come on and teach; I taught secondary and college at the same time. I retired from Chesapeake in 2012 to take care of my mother-in-law. Teaching at Regent kept me grounded and active as a teacher to satisfy my lifelong goal to teach. It was not until 2013 when Dr. Stewart asked me to teach on campus. I didn’t really know how I would act facing college students as opposed to secondary, but now it has worked out so well that I am teaching math and education, and I absolutely love it. Bottom line: Any time you can open up and close a class with a prayer, it is truly amazing.
Q: How has your faith and beliefs influenced your classroom?
A: I gave myself back to Christ in 1994 after I had been retired from the military for 2 years because of things that happened in my personal life. I have always had a strong desire to help people, and because of my faith, I have always dealt with people by thinking about the best instead of the worst and treating them all the same. This is because Christ treated everyone the same. In order to teach students, as a teacher you have to get to know your students. I do that through interactions, humor, and treating them as the human beings they are instead of objects to be talked to.
Q: You were in the Air Force. How has your time serving influenced your outlook on life?
A: The Air Force was my home. Every day was a new challenge, a new adventure. Even though I went to war and came back, I always knew I had job security, a roof over my head, food in my stomach and place of belonging. It was 24 years of adventure and challenges; one challenge being the Vietnam War. Because of my upbringing, I was able to deal with what I saw and what I felt. It taught me organization, discipline, and that no matter what area of employment or job status that you are in, there is always an element of teaching that you can take by the hand and run with. There is always a place to teach whether it be electronics, Christianity or just human nature.
Q: What are your hobbies?
A: Recreation: When I’m not putting together lesson plans or helping students, I pride myself in woodworking, building things, reading the Bible, Christian books, novels by Clive Cussler, and sharing life with my loving wife who is also still a teacher.
Q: Do you have any advice for the readers, about future careers, life, etc.?
A: No matter what you do in life, whether you are a student, a teacher, a businessman or entrepreneur, you must treat people as people, or as the good Lord said, do unto others what you would have them do to you. Laugh a lot, do your best, and treat people with love and you will always be ahead of the game.