Surface Skimming

Getting to Know Mrs. Nichols


Mrs. Nichols and her daughter, Shakeh.

Her fluffy mane of curls can be seen from across the 300 hall as her heels clack on the tile floor. She greets her students with a bright burst of energy and a smile. Fashion icon, real estate agent, city council member, and high school English teacher, Mrs. Nichols is loved by many. If you know her, you might know that she is married to Dr. Nichols, right across the hall, has two children attending UT Austin just as their parents did, often quotes her favorite movie, Mean Girls, and has an adorable pit bull mix named Tiff.  However, there’s a lot more to Mrs. Nichols than what meets the eye. 

Mrs. Nichols rigorously studied linguistics, the scientific study of language and its structure. This has led to very interesting life opportunities, such as two offers to work for the FBI. 

“You know how you can change your keyboard, and it recognizes what you type in English letters but it’s in Russian? That’s the work of linguists. All of your autocorrect, that’s what linguists do,” Mrs. Nichols said.

While attending UT Arlington, she came across a man that recommended her to work for the computer/IT side of foreign services. “I did get a phone call from the FBI or LinkedIn field office, asking if I would like to apply for a job as an interpreter in organized crime. I thought very hard about it, and I declined. Then a few years later, I got another link,” she said. Presently, Mrs. Nichols is a real estate agent, and, of course, an English teacher.

Her favorite thing about teaching is “interacting with young minds.” Mrs. Nichols does her best to engage her students and make them think outside of the box.

“I firmly believe that through discussion and debate, students learn better,” Mrs. Nichols said.

She taught English in Armenia before arriving in the U.S. when she was 28, and there were a few differences. For example, the kids in Armenia didn’t have as many nice things as the average American.

“When I first came, one of the things that got me was the textbooks; how rich in pictures and you know, they were a feast for the eyes,” Mrs. Nichols said.

Another thing she finds purpose in is selling houses.

“What got me into it was trying to help my clients who come and have just immigrated; they don’t know the language that well to be able to understand. So literally, the majority of my clients are unique ones. First-time homebuyers in America.” Clearly, the art of communication has a significant role in her life and career. 

 Mrs. Nichols is a model citizen and interactive teacher, dedicated to making experiences, whether for clients or students, as educational and enjoyable as possible. 

“It’s very hard to get them interested. That makes sense because it’s a mindset of scores and torture. It just gets in the way, especially in English and Math, you know, all of these subjects, they just get in the way of me becoming something else. And so it’s very difficult to sell English to them,” she said.

Mrs. Nichols’ passion for different languages and people set her apart from the rest.

“Never lose your focus,” she said. “Don’t forget what’s important.”