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Nicole McGaha has a home away from home.

McGaha started as a student teacher at Mitchell Road Elementary. She is now in her ninth year as a fourth-grade teacher at the school.

“It’s the same classroom I started teaching in,” she said. “I live in Easley, but I drive 25 minutes here for the pure fact that I love teaching at Mitchell Road.”

McGaha is married and is the mother of two young children. She has always felt driven to teach.

“There was never really a question in my mind that I wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “There was never another option — it was teaching.”

This is McGaha’s first year teaching all of the subjects in fourth grade.

“I am a little surprised to say that I love teaching math,” she said.

Though she focuses on academics, McGaha said teaching her students goes beyond that effort. In her classroom, everyone is in it together.

“I’m here to believe in my students so they can achieve success,” she said. “On the first day of school, I tell my kids they have now become my adopted children and we operate as a family. I still have to play mama sometimes and be strict, but they know I love them. I tell them tomorrow is a new day and thank goodness we have grace.”

McGaha keeps her students engaged through a wide range of innovative lessons and the integration of technology. She spends time writing grants for new technology and researching new ways to make learning fun and interactive so the information stays with her students long after they leave her classroom.

“We move around a lot,” she said. “I do a lot of whole group instruction and hands-on activities.”

The extra time and effort isn’t required, but for McGaha, it is part of giving her best for her dream career at the school where she has invested much of her life.

“It’s a passion,” she said. “It makes me happy on even the hardest day. Being able to touch lives is a bonus. I can say I love what I do.”

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