Nicole Hambleton – Staff Spotlight

HambletonEveryone has a story and many times that story will amaze you. Nicole Hambleton has just that type of story. She currently works at Gunston Middle School as one of the 4 full-time Montessori teachers. Not only does she have experience as a Montessori teacher at Gunston, she has taught Montessori from age 2 through 18 over the past 19 years. She attended Montessori school as a child, and later she would spend time in her mother’s Montessori classroom when they lived in Germany. Additionally, Nicole attended a Montessori high school before transferring to West Springfield High School, a public high school in Springfield, VA.

Nicole considers herself is a 3rd Culture Kid. “Third culture kids are individuals raised in a culture other than their parents’ or the culture of the country named on their passport (where they are legally considered native) for a significant part of their early development years,” according to the co-author of Third Culture Kids, Ruth Van Reken and David Pollock.Hambleton_younger

Nicole’s dad was in the Air Force and as such the family moved about every two years. When asked how her 12 year-old self would react to what she does now as a career, she replied that the 12 year-old would probably not be surprised. What might surprise her is that she has lived in one place for as long as she has, not following the pattern of moving every two years.

When Nicole was a middle school student, she had aspirations of being the first astronaut veterinarian on the moon! Her dad was a navigator, flew fighter jets, and worked in modelling and simulations. Nicole was fascinated with 99space and loved animals, so a career combination of both loves seemed like the logical path. Especially, since the 12-year Nicole thought there would be people and animals living in space by the time she was an adult.

While she did not make it to space as a veterinarian, she has carried out her love of animals. For a time, she was a reptile educator. She worked at a zoo and some of her responsibilities included teaching classes, caring for the animals, and assisting with the recovery of animals that were found in private homes like. . .  alligators, cobras, and other reptiles people are not allowed to have as pets!

Another love of Nicole’s, found in middle school, is singing.  She asked her parents for voice lessons and went on from there.  She graduated from Ithaca College with degrees in Voice Performance and Psychology.  She also was a member of a Grammy award-winning choir! See, her story is amazing. And one I didn’t know, until I asked.

One of the things Nicole loves about this profession is that it changes all the time and there is always the opportunity to learn something new.  She has a need to be continually learning something new, maybe because she was raised as a 3rd culture kid. She’s not sure why that is, but for her teaching is a win-win.  There is always something new and she has the opportunity to learn it. Speaking of learning, last year was the first year Nicole was not a professional student! In addition to her degree from Ithaca College, she earned a Masters in teaching from Trinity University and she completed two Montessori training programs, one from the Institute of Advanced Montessori Studies in Silver Spring, MD and the other from the Houston Montessori Center.  After this short break, she’s looking to returning to school to earn a doctorate degree.

Finally, if she could go back in time and talk to her middle school self, she would share, “The way you feel is normal, you will get past this and it will be ok.”