Teachers are often described as leaders of today’s youth, and Nicholas Wellman captures that very essence at Willowcreek Middle School. As a Portage resident, being a role model and a teacher has always been instilled in him. Portage is home for Wellman, and he can’t picture doing what he loves anywhere else.
“I grew up in a teacher’s house,” said Wellman. “My parents were both very hard working people. My mom was a teacher for 30 years, so I always knew what that lifestyle was like. My wife is a teacher and her dad was a teacher, so she knew what the lifestyle was like as well.”
Wellman said growing up, he had great teachers from elementary school through college. He liked that teachers encouraged students to be capable of anything, and that stuck with Wellman throughout his professional career.
“I like showing students that they can do things they don’t think are possible. It’s intriguing to me and it’s not like any other job. You see the kids grow and the light kick on, and I think that’s rewarding,” said Wellman. “For some it’s easier, and for some it’s harder, and it’s nice to see the end result of teaching.”
Wellman is also an active basketball coach at Willowcreek Middle School. His high school and college coaches inspired him. Wellman find it to be important to not just be a coach, but to be a mentor for the students.
“You need to be tough, kind and fair. Coaching and teaching go hand in hand, you have kids that really want to be there and challenge what they learned, and others need that extra push. You need to keep the kids challenged and to progress as an athlete or as a student,” said Wellman.
For Wellman, he wants to break the stigma that teachers go to work because it’s something they have to do. He wants to emphasize the importance of teachers in the community.
“People sometimes think teachers go to work because they have to and they don’t care about it, and that’s not the truth,” said Wellman. “A lot of teachers take their work home with them, not necessarily just grading papers, but worrying about kids and where their kids are going. We create relationships with them and a lot of times teachers are not noticed for that.”
Wellman takes pride in knowing that he is making a difference in his student’s lives. He specifically likes the feeling of parents thanking him for being a mentor to his students or to his athletes.
“When you get noticed for what you do, it’s nice, “ said Wellman. “It shows you that what you’re doing really does matter. Even if it’s just one person that notices what you do, it makes a difference. Sometimes kids either need a high five or a stern look when they need it, but it’s all to better the student.”
As an educator, it’s important to have the mentality to challenge others, and it’s important to try to do it with a smile. Wellman wants to give back to the community by teaching. He wants to be there to encourage the younger generation and to influence them to strive for the impossible.
“At the end of the day, I value the relationships and the friendships that you make. The Portage community taught me that you’re a product of your own environment. For me, I just like to help and to teach others. I’ve been teaching for 17 years and I’ve been coaching for 17 years. I guess you can say I found the right thing,” said Wellman.