Student Spotlight: Nicholas Cummons

Nick Cummons, well-known around campus for being the Jesus-loving skater dude from Ohio, has a bright future ahead of him. He is a senior, graduating in May with a degree in Economics and a minor in Business Administration. Nick recently accepted a job offer from Collier County Public Schools as a substitute teacher and will continue to spread his infectious joy to the kids of Immokalee through his service. He and his fiancée, Hailey McNeely, plan on staying close to Ave after graduation.

Why did you choose the career for which you are preparing?

I initially spoke to Hailey about this when she was a Theology major because she has such a charism for teaching and working with children. I told her that if she wanted to change the world and change the way people live their lives, she should be teacher. I always kind of wanted to be one, but I never gave it much thought because I was an Econ major and I just assumed that was where my life was headed. Not too long after I spoke to Hailey, I read a Career Services blog about Collier County Public Schools, and it was at that time that I was talking to Zach and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Being a teacher worked its way to the top of my list of possible job opportunities and we agreed that I should try to pursue a career in teaching. I learned that CCPS had a desire to hire more Ave students because of their outstanding work ethic, so I got a trial run with them and essentially got a job as a substitute teacher to try to see if this is really want I want to do. I guess I chose trial by fire.

What does a typical day at CCPS look like for you?

Well, the day of a substitute is always interesting. Each day is a new class and a fresh start, which can be a good thing or a bad thing. I have actually taken a job for the next month with the same class every other day (and college classes on my other days). That will be my first time being able to build longer standing relationships with the students and the school staff. Up until now, I have been going to different elementary schools in Immokalee as well as the middle school almost every day. After signing in at the office and asking a billion questions about the brand new school that I've never been to (which has been the case almost every time so far) and receiving my lesson plans for the day that the teacher has left me for their class, I usually scramble for the next 30 minutes preparing to deliver the lesson that the teacher intended all while trying to learn the routines of the classroom and the school. After my scrambling time, I pick up the students in my homeroom from wherever in that school that they meet in the morning and then go about class as normal (usually with a million questions about who I am, since I'm still a new face), or at least as normally as it can go with a substitute. I facilitate the classroom activities as best as I can, from interactive computer programs on the whiteboard to simple math worksheets, social studies readings and discussions, and homework reviews. At some point, I drop the students off at lunch and during this time I get to eat lunch, catch my breath, and ask the other teachers for advice, tips, and help. It's pretty straightforward, except for the part where it could be an entirely new set of faces in front of me everyday with an entirely new lesson plan/classroom structure. It’s awesome and crazy.

What is the best part of working for Collier County Public Schools?

First of all, when I was welcomed aboard at CCPS as a guest teacher, I felt right at home in the schools I started going to. The staff members at each school were welcoming, supportive, professional, encouraging, and very helpful. CCPS has an incredible amount of resources for their employees to continue learning and become the best educators that they can be. I really like the amount of support that the school district gives to all of their teachers and guest teachers. Additionally, the kids have been so wonderful to serve and work with. There hasn't been a day when I haven't come back from teaching with a big smile on my face telling Hailey all about the funny stories and crazy things that happened that day. It truly has been a joy to be a part of CCPS. 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Probably still around here in the Naples area. I initially I started going to the Immokalee schools for substitute teaching, as well as for FIAT and some other after school programs, and I fell in love with the people I met over there. I’d really like to stay around here for the first couple of years after we graduate to give back to the community.

What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?

First and foremost, my faith, because it gives me the motivation to be the best I can be, which is who God designed me to be. This motivation manifests itself as the desire to serve others. It’s for Hailey, who's going to be my wife, and also for the people I work with and the people I love.

What is the best compliment you have ever received? 

*Laughing* That I have nice hair.

No, but in all seriousness, my football coach and my dad gave me the best compliment when they described me as a servant leader. I know I don't stand out, but I am a hard worker with perseverance. That’s really important to me.

How have your dreams and goals changed throughout your life?

Oh man, they’ve changed a lot. I know when I first graduated high school I was determined to be either a rockstar or a guitar technician. The first year out of high school, I never thought I would spend time doing missionary work, but when I ended up serving for NET Ministries, it was two weeks before I left for Franciscan, I already had my classes and my roommate set up and I left that all behind. After I finished working for NET, my dad convinced me to go to college, but I didn't see myself getting a four year degree. As I progressed through my time here at Ave, a whole world of opportunities opened up.

What do you think older generations misunderstand about yours?

They probably fit all of us into a category that doesn't believe in traditional values. I wish they would realize that some of us really do have strong family values and lives rooted in faith.

Describe your most rewarding college experience?

Dr. Sugrue’s American Civilization class. She was just so challenging and I don't think I have ever worked harder for an A- in my life. It was so rewarding to see my final grade that semester.

In what kind of work environment are you most comfortable?

Definitely one where everyone works together toward a common goal. We might not all be doing the same thing, but having that unity and structure and camaraderie is where I find myself to be the most comfortable. 

Which do you think you have the most of: talent, intelligence, education, or persistence? How has it helped you in your life? 

Persistence, for sure. I’m not always really good at something when I start it, but that has allowed me to do things that I naturally wouldn't be able to do. Especially with teaching, my persistence helped me to find my way in and get the substitute teaching job. It has helped me to do well in school if i keep trying, and succeed in ways that I never knew I could.