FWCS Names Elementary, Secondary Teachers of the Year

Record Number: 19148
Displayed from: May 17, 2021 , until: Jul 17, 2021

Nikki Fultz, fourth-grade teacher at Waynedale Elementary School, and Tia McFarthing, seventh-grade language arts teacher at Towles New Tech Middle School, have been named the 2021 Fort Wayne Community Schools Teachers of the Year.

Fultz, the FWCS Elementary Teacher of the Year, has taught for 15 years, the past 10 at Waynedale. During the 2020-21 school year, she served as a remote teacher working with students learning online.

“Nikki has excelled in creating a culture of collaboration and community with her remote students,” Waynedale Principal Kristee Hoffner said. “Often she would find activities that combined the remote and in-person learners. She has taken the initiative to keep in-person and remote students motivated to learn.”

Fultz said she strives to establish an inclusive, welcoming space for all students. Community service is embedded into her classroom to foster student interests and learn how they can make a difference in the world.

“It’s not about feeling sorry for someone, but being grateful and helping others,” she said. “My hope is that students will take these experiences and apply them to their lives and continue giving back when and where they can.”

McFarthing, the FWCS Secondary Teacher of the Year, has taught for 13 years and has been at Towles for 8 years.

“It is my strong belief that education should prepare students for life, regardless of the career or educational path that they are on,” she said in her Teacher of the Year application. “In the New Tech program, we focus not only on content but also on interpersonal skills that are essential for success beyond our walls.”

At Towles, she established a Writing Center, which allows middle school students to assist their peers in writing. The Center helps the student leaders, the students who need assistance and the teachers whose primary subject may not be language arts.

“I recognized that my (New Tech peers) needed more support with helping students during all the phases of the writing process,” she said. “The tutors in my Writing Center has a lot of autonomy and the Writing Center is a thing of beauty to see in action. … Students review the work of their peers while asking open-ended questions and engaging the writer in discussion about his or her work. Over the years, I have heard both teachers and students comment about how helpful the Writing Center has been in supporting writing in our school.”

Candidates for Teacher of the Year are nominated by building principals with finalists chosen by a committee of administrators. The other elementary finalists this year were Felisa Davis, pre-kindergarten teacher at Bloomingdale Elementary, Emily Hull, music teacher at Whitney Young Early Childhood Center, and Kelly Roberts-Syster, third-grade teacher at Weisser Park Elementary. The other secondary finalists were Craig Fails, math teacher at Snider High School, James Graham, automotive instructor at the FWCS Career Academy, Kaylyn Speed, seventh-grade science teacher at Lane Middle School, and Karen Stath-Tracy, science teacher at Northwood Middle School.

With nearly 30,000 students, Fort Wayne Community Schools is one of the largest school districts in Indiana. FWCS proudly allows families to choose any of its 50 schools through its successful school-choice program creating diversity in each school, including some with more than 75 languages spoken. FWCS offers seven magnet schools focusing on areas such as science and math, communication, fine arts or Montessori at the elementary and middle school level. In high school, students can choose from the prestigious International Baccalaureate program, Project Lead the Way or New Tech Academy as well as other rigorous academic and specialty training programs.