Faculty Friday: Michael Abrams

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 Michael Abrams, a Middle School English teacher who is new to Nichols this year!
How long have you taught at Nichols School for?
This is my fifth year teaching and my first year in Buffalo. I previously taught 10th and 11th grade at a public high school in Philadelphia.
What has your experience been like getting to know the Nichols community this year?
I’m discovering how much the Nichols advisory program fosters meaningful relationships between teachers, students, and parents. During weekly advisory, my advisees have the chance to share what they’re going through and help each other as they navigate challenges. This experience builds trust and community, and it encourages students to develop their emotional maturity.
I also enjoy communicating with the parents of my advisees, because I think it’s important to establish continuity between what we do at Nichols and what goes on at home. I do my best to make sure each parent stays informed and feels empowered to help their child succeed at Nichols.
How have you gotten involved in school activities and community service?
I heard that Nichols had done door decorating contests for Halloween in the past, so I asked if we could bring back the tradition this year. Mr. Plumb, our Middle School Dean of Students, helped me organize a contest for all the Middle School advisories, to see which advisory could decorate their classroom door the best for Halloween. I loved how different each door turned out, and I was impressed at how invested the students were in the competition.
This year, I’m also working with Upper School faculty Caitlin Crowell and Kevin Powers to extend some of our existing community service opportunities to Middle School students. I supported them with the Thanksgiving food drive this year, for example, in which Nichols families donated food to Journey’s End, a local organization that provides refugee support and services.    
What are some memorable experiences you have had in the first half of this school year?
At the end of each trimester, my students do Exhibitions. It’s like my version of a final exam. Each student presents to the class the work they’ve done that trimester, evaluating their own performance in the context of what’s been happening in their lives both in and out of school. Then they set goals for the next trimester, thank the people at home who supported them, and answer questions posed by their peers.
I was impressed with the honesty and self-awareness that I saw in my 5th graders’ exhibitions. One student said she wanted to collaborate more effectively by using more “I statements” during group work. One student admitted that a project didn’t turn out the way he wanted, but he shared a picture of how he intended it to look and explained how he would now do the project differently. The students asked each other some really profound questions too. At the end of one Exhibition, a student raised her hand and said to the presenter, “You used to be very quiet at the start of the year, but now you’re really confident presenting. What helped you be more confident?” That was an amazing question.
What do you like most about Nichols School?
I’m energized by the growth that’s possible in a community like Nichols, and I’m thankful that I have colleagues who actively choose to challenge me, support me, and guide me. I’ve been collaborating with an inspiring group of colleagues on the faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and I’m proud to share with them the task of building a school culture in which every student can thrive. I love that even though I’m new to Nichols, I’m still able to have a voice in the community and help shape its future.