Harry Potter, Love of Reading Inspires Teaching Career

Nicki Shepski ’15 is a seventh grade language arts teacher at Emory H. Markle Intermediate School in South Western School District in Hanover, Pa. It’s a career she’s been planning for since preschool.

At four years old, Nicki Shepski would come home from preschool and emulate her teachers. 

“I would set all my stuffed animals up in a giant circle, place books in front of them to function as desks, and teach them anything I had just learned using this miniature chalkboard we had lying around our house,” she said.

Continuing into elementary school, the Harry Potter series of books further fueled Shepski’s dreams of teaching. 

“I didn’t really understand why everybody else didn’t love reading as much as I did,” said Shepski, who now runs her school’s Hogwarts fan club and the middle school drama club. “I knew how much reading had shaped my life, and I couldn’t help thinking that everybody’s lives would be impacted as much if they read, too.”

Shepski, who earned an English degree with a secondary education concentration, made it her personal mission as a teacher to get rid of the stigma that reading was nothing more than a chore and instill a lifelong passion for the activity. 

“I spent all this time my senior year at LVC researching why it’s important for kids to enjoy reading, and how to make that happen practically in the classroom,” said Shepski, who earned departmental honors for her research. “Now, I discuss all of those things with my students every year, and I measure my personal success by how many books my students read and enjoyed throughout their time with me.”

The skills Shepski uses to inspire her current students were honed as a student at LVC. She wrote and served as co-editor for the student newspaper, La Vie Collegienne, and was the organizations editor for the Quittapahilla yearbook for two years. Shepski also worked in the College’s Writing Center for three years, helping students who did not enjoy words, reading, and the subject of English as much as her. 

“One of the most effective ways to show that you understand something is to teach it to someone,” Shepski said. “Being able to explain a writing concept in a way that another student, who most likely is not an English major, understands and can apply, solidified and refined my ideas.”

Looking back on her education, Shepski credits the faculty of LVC’s English Department for giving her the confidence to believe she can be a better reader, writer, and critical thinker. She hopes to return the favor by motivating and inspiring her students.

“The students are the reason I have my job, but they also make my job an absolute blast,” she said. “They are a constant reminder as to why I was born for this. They are at such a critical point in their lives. As 12- and 13-year-olds, they’re really starting to determine their identity and find their voice as a person, and I really love being able to witness and be a part of that process.”

 

Sierra Force, Marketing & Communications Assistant