Each school year, the faculty at Nichols School provide tremendous guidance and encouragement to help their students learn and grow. Our faculty members are empowered to craft the curriculum as they see fit, to make learning relevant and rewarding for every child.
Faculty Friday features the outstanding teachers of Nichols School and showcases the work they do to help our students and our community.
Meet Josh Ring, a Middle School science and math teacher who is also getting students involved in some fun environmental projects around the Nichols campus!
How long have you taught at Nichols School for?
This is my 19th year at Nichols. I taught in the Upper School for my first 12 years. Now I teach fifth grade science and math, along with environmental science in the Upper School.
What is involved in your site survey project students are working on?
The fifth-grade students were identifying and counting insects and pollinators on the campus. Students are comparing different areas from freshly-cut grass areas to areas with native plantings. They use the iNaturalist app to help identify the insects and share them with a community of people interested in the natural world.
How are you working to enhance the Nichols campus?
We are having a lot of fun working on a new Pollinator Garden on campus. There are a series of berms which run along Colvin between the parking lot and sidewalk. We want to convert this area into a native pollinator garden. This is an effort which brings together many members of the Nichols community. Dr. Laurie Ousley organizes the Upper School students and I gather the Middle Schoolers. Facilities has provided guidance, tools, and soil. Faculty families have grown some plants in their gardens over the summer for fall transplant and Dr. Ousley obtained plantings from the WNY Land Conservancy. We have met up when we could to tear out landscape fabric, mix in soil, and put in our new plants. Marketing is helping us develop signage to place around the garden to inform visitors. Come spring 2021, we are hopeful for a young, but vibrant garden.
Fifth graders have also been busy working on field guides for the trees of the Nichols campus. The idea is one from Olmsted Parks around Hoyt Lake where you can click on tree icons on a digital map and learn about that particular species of tree. Using the same concept here, each student prepares a field guide. Interested people on campus will be able to click on icons to access the student’s field guide and learn about those trees.
Where else have your students visited in WNY for class projects and field trips?
This year we participated in Day in the Life of the Niagara River and Lake Erie Watershed. This brought us to Hoyt Lake for water sampling and site analysis. Schools from across Western New York sample water on the same day, then we all share the results. This year keeps us close to campus. This is a great opportunity for the fifth graders to learn more about their own natural habitat right around them. We can learn to appreciate the beauty of the natural world that is right at our fingertips. This appreciation is important in developing interest when they expand their study to broader regions like the Great Lakes curriculum in seventh grade science, and into world studies in later grades.
Why is experiential learning important for students?
I believe the experience and involvement in a project can lead to a developed sense of purpose and belonging. My hope is the students will remember their tree, their bird or their garden, and this will lead to an appreciation of the natural world and a love of science and earth.
Why do you enjoy teaching?
Teaching can be a great creative outlet; I enjoy that aspect of teaching. I also enjoy working with students of all age levels. It is amazing to witness students learning, and I have been amazed as they progress. In teaching both Middle School and Upper School students in my time at Nichols, I have a great perspective on growth. I am amazed by the students and I am amazed by their teachers along the way.
What do you like most about Nichols School?
Nichols has provided me with a lot. I have been able to grow as an individual and study areas of interest. I get to develop curriculum and bring it to eager students. Who can ask for more than that?
My kids have been here on campus and part of the community since they were babies, and now my two girls are students here. It is a real joy for me to see them thriving at Nichols being led by wonderful faculty and mentors.