Every school day, second grade teacher Nicole Pfitzenmaier’s goal is to show each of her 28 students that she cares about them. In fact, Pfitzenmaier’s special ability to connect with her students earned her two nominations from parents to be featured in our magazine, a first for myWaukee.
“She treats each and every child as parents would want their kid to be treated at school,” said Lisa Stout, while Sarah Wacker noted that Pfitzenmaier takes the time to “get to know them as individuals.”
Some of Pfitzenmaier’s earliest childhood memories involve setting up her own pretend classroom, using her dolls as “students.” Pfitzenmaier retained this desire to become a teacher and went on to earn an education degree from Upper Iowa University before earning a master’s degree from Viterbo University. She taught in San Diego, California for three years and then came to Walnut Hills Elementary in Waukee, where she’s been teaching for the last eight years.
Pfitzenmaier’s favorite subject to teach is literacy because she can see her students’ learning process firsthand, and because she can find out about their particular interests through the types of things they choose to read. She sees a lot of growth in her students’ reading and writing, “so it’s very rewarding,” she said.
Along with the typical second-grade curriculum of reading and math, Pfitzenmaier takes time each day to discuss important life skills with her students, such as how to set and meet goals, what it means to have empathy for others and how to be a trustworthy person. Some of her favorite moments in the classroom are when she sees her students applying what they’ve learned.
Because she has 28 students, Pfitzenmaier said that her challenge as a teacher is to make sure she “has a positive interaction with each one of them every day.” She went on to explain, “I want to make a difference in each one of their lives. I want them to know that I truly care about them.”
When she’s not teaching, Pfitzenmaier enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her husband and two little boys.