Shurba Engages Students in an Empathetic Environment

Nicolette+Shurba+teaches+her+sixth+grade+English+class.

Olivia Kortman

Nicolette Shurba teaches her sixth grade English class.

Amanda Rose DeStefano, Staff Writer

  As she patiently redirects the attention of sixth grade English students back to their work, Nicolette Shurba has one objective at the forefront of her mind: to lead with empathy. Coming to Trinity from a Title I school in Osceola County, Shurba understands the importance of compassion in the classroom.

   “I am really interested in relationship building and cultivating a sense of community in the classroom. I love that every day is a different day in the classroom,” Shurba said.

   Although focusing all class can be difficult for younger students, Shurba uses a few tactics to gently keep all students engaged. Instead of directly reprimanding students for their inattention, she acknowledges the students who are on task. Establishing this kind of reward system gives students an opportunity to model their behavior off their peers. 

   This approach to the classroom is thanks to Shurba’s educational background. She studied English and women’s studies at the University of Florida, providing a unique sense of understanding for those around her.

   “I think a women’s studies background provides some insight to cultures, traditions, values that might be different from our own and helps me lead with a sense of empathy,” Shurba said.

   When she’s not in the classroom, Shurba acts as a freelance writer in Orlando Weekly, where she writes about everything from new music to Orlando culture. Since 2017, Shurba has been balancing regularly writing articles and teaching.

   “I’ve always loved writing and I love that working for the Orlando Weekly as a freelance writer offers me the opportunity to turn interviews into a narrative form,” Shurba said.

   While juggling both of these passions is bound to become a handful, Shurba says teaching will always be her main focus. Organizational skills have become her saving grace while balancing both of her passions.

   Adding onto her busy schedule, she attends jewelry making classes and loves gazing out the window and watching the Florida birds.

   At the end of the day, she hopes to bring her special perspective which focuses on cultivating a safe and welcoming environment to the youngest on campus. Whether it be through her own words, or the ones on the pages her students are reading, the atmosphere Shurba has created in her classroom is one with purpose.

  “I really believe in the power of reading, to change people’s lives, and to cultivate a sense of empathy for people that are not like us,” she said.