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Chemistry and adventure in and out of the classroom

Ellie, Jen, Jack and Jeffrey Nichols enjoying Colorado’s ski country. Jeffrey teaches honor and general chemistry at Rock Canyon High School.

After chatting with Jeffrey Nichols, it is safe to say that he finds a lot of things interesting. He has been teaching for 17 years, but leading teenagers in a classroom came after a few other career attempts.

Jeffrey first pursued medicine (oral and maxillofacial surgery) and then moved into pharmacy studies. But he said after two years working in pharmacies, he knew it was not for him. He tried clerking for a law office in Portland, Oregon, before finally settling on his true calling – teaching.

Jeffrey applied for a master of arts in a teaching program and he was finally on his way. He currently teaches general and honors chemistry at Rock Canyon High School and said he has many favorite parts about teaching.

“I love showing them new content that they have not seen before in school,” Jeffrey explained. “I love watching new ideas click and the students start to get it.”

Jeffrey added that he likes to impart his knowledge to the students but he also enjoys learning of their accomplishments outside of the classroom. “The kids that take chemistry love science, and it is great to watch their enthusiasm and excitement over learning. I also get to enjoy some of life’s great successes when they do things like pass their driver tests!” added Jeffrey.

He also tries to share his passion for adventure with his students. When he is not in the classroom, Jeffrey is with his family or outdoors expending energy.

He runs cross country, skis and snowboards. But his main love of late is cyclocross. For those not familiar with it, it is best described as a mix between road cycling, mountain biking and a steeplechase (an obstacle race). The season takes place September through February, therefore challenging weather and challenging terrain is part of the attraction.

Jeffrey is not the only one in the family who loves adventure. His wife, Jen, is passionate about travel and running, completing the Boston Marathon and a recent 50-mile race. Their son Jack is in eighth grade and daughter Ellie is in sixth grade; both children love sports and exploring on vacations. Rounding out the family are their two dogs Lola and Casey.

Jeffrey said at the end of the day he hopes to inspire learning and adventure in his students.

smiling man holding muddy bicycle

Jeffrey getting dirty during a cyclocross race in Lyons, Colorado.

By Karen Leigh; photos courtesy of Jeffrey Nichols



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