The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s new annual report was recently released. In it includes a video link depicting what teacher leadership looks like in action in Revere by focusing on one teacher’s commitment to her students.
The teacher featured is Revere High School’s ninth-and 10th-grade math teacher Hatice Nigdelioglu.
Known by her students as “Mrs. N,” the video begins with her explaining her background.
“Coming from Turkey they expected me to graduate elementary school, find a husband and stay at home,” says Nigdelioglu in the five minute video highlighting her work at Revere High. “I fought against that and I was the first in the family to go to college. I just wanted to build my own future I just wanted to move on and see the world and that’s how my husband and I came here.”
Nigdelioglu, a teacher leader at Revere High, stepped up to fill the teacher leader void because of her commitment to students.
“Our teachers are the experts and if we believe in them and empower them, they can do great things,” says Revere Superintendent Dianne Kelly of Nigdelioglu. “She’s been a teacher leader because she has identified for her colleagues where the children are, discover what they need and then met those needs.”
Nigdelioglu says most of her students are minority students or immigrant students or English Language learners and she noticed they were not feeling included in class.
“I had to find ways they could be successful and feel welcomed in school,” said Nigdelioglu
“Freshman are a sheltered classroom,” she said. They are learning language along with the (math) content. They are at different levels with the content, as well as different levels of language. We need to make sure they are self confident. We have to make sure they have the social skills to be successful members of the community. We need to do more than just teaching terms on the board. It is not enough. I am not a teacher to be paid I’m a teacher because I care about those students.”
Her students have been very appreciative of Nigdelioglu’s teaching style over the years.
“I know Mrs. N tries to get everyone involved,” said William Ly. “Even if you are having a bad day she will still be friendly and talk to you. You really don’t think of her as a teacher.”
Fatim Zahra said she went to Nigdelioglu because she wanted to start a Muslim Student Association.
“She helped us start the Muslim Student Association,” said Zahra. “She was definitely important in getting it started and getting it approved by administration. She’s always been there to teach us that you always have to stand up for yourself even if that means not being liked.”
History teacher John Fergus was immediately impressed with Nigdelioglu the first time he met her.
“My first introduction to Hatice was during a real difficult time in Massachusetts,” said Fergus. “It was right after the Marathon Bombing and one of our students was incorrectly identified as a suspect (by New York Papers),” said Fergus. “We had a meeting and she stood up and pleased with the staff to not make this about religion. It was one of the most courageous things I’ve ever seen.”
In the end Nigdelioglu has become a welcoming shoulder to lean on for others at Revere High and says each teacher, young or old, can learn from one another.
“We have to rely on colleagues,” she says. “Whether it’s a veteran teacher or new teacher growth is always there.”
Cutline, Revere High School’s 9th and 10th grade math teacher Hatice Nigdelioglu.