Nikki Russell, STEM teacher at Orchard Knob Elementary School, was awarded the Outstanding Technology Teacher of the Year award from the statewide Tennessee Educational Technology Association. The recognition is awarded to only one person in Tennessee each year.
With over 15 years as an educator in the Chattanooga and North Georgia areas, Ms. Russell’s work as an educator has touched children in numerous elementary schools. Last year as a STEM teacher and science leader at Orchard Knob Elementary School, She orchestrated over 60 learning exploration field trips for students to give them hands-on experiences in STEM.
Not only is Ms. Russell certified as a Google Educator, Apple Teacher, Ozobot Certified Educator, and Microsoft Educator, she is also a graduate of the Public Education Foundation’s Leadership and STEM Fellows programs.
Ms. Russell has opportunities in private business in coding or STEM, but she continues to teach so that she can reach the next generation with STEM opportunities. She said, “My passion lies in the day-to-day opportunities to motivate and coach students and teachers, particularly in underrepresented and underserved populations.” She is also a facilitator for Tech Goes Home Chattanooga, a part of The Enterprise Center’s digital inclusion program for residents across Hamilton County. The organization partners with schools, libraries, churches, and nonprofits to offer free courses designed to help residents develop skills and habits required for the use of smart technology and the internet.
“Nikki has been vital to the success of Tech Goes Home,” said Sammy Lowdermilk, director of Tech Goes Home Chattanooga. “Whether it’s taking on multiple classes to teach or helping to develop curriculum, she always goes above and beyond to help.”
Greg Bagby, the coordinator of Instructional Technology for Hamilton County Schools, sees Ms. Russell’s impact on the community and in the classroom. “Nikki is an amazing classroom teacher that cultivates her students to have a desire to create and learn with technology,” he said. “She is the type of teacher you can put anything on her plate, and you know it will get done. Sometimes you think maybe she does too much, and yet she keeps the plates spinning. I am not at all surprised by this honor - greatness can’t be ignored.”
In her spare time, after Ms. Russell leads after-school tech camps and teaches Tech Goes Home classes, she can be found spending time with her two children, friends, and family. To learn more about Ms. Russell and her upcoming presentations at the national Future of Education Technology Conference in January, you can follow and connect with her on twitter (@nikkicrussell17) and LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/nikkistem/).