TPHS Teacher of the Year Jacqueline Niddrie

Earlier this spring, Jacqueline Niddrie, a veteran member of the Falcon family, was named Teacher of the Year at TPHS for her “proven track record of success and connection with kids,” according to TPHS Principal Rob Coppo.

For nearly 28 years, Niddrie has led students through the business pathway and introductory law class at TPHS.

“It’s a privilege to work with students every single day,” Niddrie said.

That appreciation is reciprocated by her students.

“[I] always look forward to going to class,” Matthew Broder (12), a student in Niddrie’s Intro to Law class, said. “You don’t always get that with a lot of teachers.”

Indeed, Niddrie’s classes stand out from others on campus, according to her students. Emphasizing project-based learning and implementing contemporary events into her

curriculum, like a study of Super Bowl commercials in her marketing classes, Niddrie is an engaging educator, her students say.

“She really tries to get on the level of the student … and communicate the information in a way that is applicable [to their lives],” Cade Alcantara (11), a student in Niddrie’s law class, said.

Beyond tailoring her lessons to her students’ interests, Niddrie is also known to seek deeper understandings with her students.

“She’s very intense with her teaching, but [she is also] laid back and listens when you talk to her personally,” Broder said. “We’ve had a very close connection this year, and it felt like I made a friend.”

Other students agreed.

“She’s very much a motherly figure,” Megan Goelitz (11), a former student in Niddrie’s marketing class, said. “It made me so much more comfortable to be in her class and open myself up to learning and new experiences.”

For Niddrie, seeking these connections is in line with what she sees as the culture at TPHS.

“The school culture changes with the times and we don’t resist the change. The faculty is willing to understand and accept … that the challenges presented to our students change,” Niddrie said. “So, I listen more to my students’ needs … so that they know…I can support them.”

These efforts do not go unnoticed by her students.

“She’s a teacher, but she’s also an adult that I trust,” Haley Epstein (10), a current student in Niddrie’s
marketing class, said. “I will sometimes go in early and just sit with her, and I’ll bring coffee and we just talk. She’s really good at listening.”

Niddrie was notified of her Teacher of the Year recognition while away from campus on medical leave. Seeking treatment for cancer, Niddrie’s presence was missed by many of her students.

“I was blindsided by the amount of support I got,” Niddrie said. “I knew [my students] would be understanding and they would feel badly, but I did not expect to be showered with the love and support and prayers and concern and emails. It was overwhelming.”

Broder was among a number of students who sent Niddrie well-wishes. He gathered all of her classes and filmed a montage of messages from each student to send to her.

Upon returning to campus, Niddrie said her connections with her students deepened.

“Everyone should be able to return to a welcoming committee like that,” she said. “Now, when they say ‘How are you?’ it’s with a little bit more [weight].”

For Epstein, who saw Niddrie every morning during first period prior to her leave, her return made their connection even more meaningful.

“You only have a certain amount of time with whoever is in your life, so having her back was just more time with her,” Epstein said.

Entering her last year of teaching, as she plans to retire in the spring of 2024, Niddrie will leave her students with the experience of being cared for.

“Yes, they’re my students. Yes, I’m Mrs. Niddrie. But on some level, we’re just people sharing two hours a day, every other day,” she said. “I’m a part of their life experience; they’re a part of my life experience.”
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