Meet Nicole Felmus, Summer ’17 UELIP

Nicki_Felmus

By Kyle Hietala

DCPS Office: Chief of Schools, Planning Team
Education: Rising Senior at Columbia University
Program of Study / Major: American Studies and Education
Hometown: Richmond, Virginia

Nicole is analyzing summer enrichment programs for students in grades K-8. She is collecting survey data and organizing site visits to summer learning programs to assess how engaging and rewarding programs are for students. “I’ve realized how much data can tell you,” Nicole said. “Being able to tell a story with numbers gives you a better grounding to help convince people to support your program.”

An interest in improving public education comes from her own roots: Nicole attended a public high school with over 1,200 students, which was, “diverse in every way,” she observed. “My school had huge divides, especially socioeconomic divides between east and west; those played a role in teachers, textbooks, and infrastructure.” In addition to her encounters with inequity, Nicole found inspiration to pursue a career in education from Sir Ken Robinson’s famous TED talk about how schools kill creativity. (And like Ken, she’s a creative person: her little yellow car has vanity plates that read “BEESMART.”)

For Nicole, improving education isn’t just about what happens in the classroom. She is interested in how the intersection of housing, education, and socioeconomic status plays out in policy-making. A student of Columbia University in New York City, Nicole observed about the City’s schools, “how can we live in a world with segregated schools over 60 years after Brown v. Board?” That’s why she wants to tackle urban housing policy head-on, since “housing decides where you go to school.”

“Teachers need to be more incentivized to teach in high-poverty areas, and we need to think more carefully about we draw district lines,” Nicole offered as steps to improving educational equity. “Education,” she believes, “is about serving the public good; we need more of a community-focused approach, and less of an individualistic approach.”

 

 

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