So much Buckeye in one O-H-I-O
A Q&A with Nichole Gill
What are you looking forward to this coming academic year?
I will student teach this year and I am excited to learn what my placement will be. What I love most about working in special education is the interaction with kids. I enjoy being part of each child’s journey in life. My ultimate goal is to help each child as much as I possibly can.
You are part of Ohio State Women’s Varsity Swimming Team and attended the Diversity Training Camp at the Olympic Training Center. What was that like?
I am half Colombian, so I was chosen to be an athlete at the Diversity Training Camp. Every year, the USA Swimming Association chooses the top 16 boys and top 16 girls (based on IMX scores) who are at least 50 percent ethnically diverse to train at the select camp for a week.
I was blessed to meet lifelong friends and some amazing role models that week. One swimmer is among the top all-time Olympians, Nathan Adrian. Another, Heather Arseth-Mauritus, became one of my best friends and role models and is heading to her second Olympics this year.
What do you like about teaching swimming skills to youth?
I have taught swimming for children’s swim teams in Dublin, Ohio, since I graduated from high school. I have worked with the Special Olympics in swimming, baseball, power lifting and bowling. I also spent this summer working with the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta.
No matter the age, physical or mental ability of the individual, I absolutely love teaching them how to swim or how to improve their swimming skills. Through these experiences, I realized I could teach in a classroom.
How did you find your special education niche?
When I was 16, a little boy on the swim team basically was drowning every day at practice. I asked a coach if I could volunteer to work with kids needing one-on-one attention.
Most swimmers had simple mistakes to fix, except for the one boy. When I asked him what was wrong, he said, "I'm scared of the deep end." My goal was to get him to swim across the deep end by summer’s end.
I used the teaching method, "I do it, we do it, you do it." It took time, but I was patient. I also reinforced his ability to touch the pool bottom. I put a sinking toy in the shallow end then moved it progressively into deeper water. His reinforcement came from grabbing the toy and getting to play with it while I give him verbal reinforcement.
By the end of the summer, he not only swam across the deep end without fear, but he also swam so fast, he was named the most-improved swimmer of the year, out of 300 swimmers.
That sparked my love for teaching. Since then, I have helped coach swimmers who have broken national records and qualified for the Olympic trials. One was 13.
I have been lucky to work with veterans who have been shot in combat and young adults with traumatic brain injuries, blindness or autism.
What are your career plans and how has EHE prepared you?
My great professors and placements are preparing me to become a special education teacher. I learn something new every time I sit in Professor Helen Malone’s classes.
All of my professors take time out of their schedules to make sure I master the material. I am blessed to have a department so supportive of each student’s success.