Nikki Costa liked Shaker so much, she stayed.
Starting in January last year, Costa was the long-term substitute for English teacher Jewel Reid, who moved to Philadelphia with her family.
“I came into Shaker second semester last year, in the middle of the year with seniors,” she said. “I felt like a fish out of water because I had grown up in communities that were super homogenous. There was no diversity. So, for me, coming to Shaker where there are so many different opportunities for different students, it was a reality check.”
“It taught me more about myself than any other experience I’ve had in this life,” Costa said.
Junior Cheyenne Callahan was one of Costa’s students last year. “I thought she was really nice,” she said. “She’s easy to talk to.”
Costa was hired full-time at the end of last year, and this year marks her first full-time teaching job. She teaches 9th Grade Honors English and 12 Core English. “So, three classes of seniors and two classes of freshmen,” she said.
Costa graduated from Brecksville High School and Notre Dame College.
“I knew from an early age that I had a really strong talent for connecting with people,” Costa said. “So, I knew that wanted to do something where I got to interact with people every day. I wanted to be a Clinical Child Psychiatrist when I first started school, so I always knew that I wanted to work with kids, but my heart was in literature.”
“She teaches really well,” Callahan said. “She made it fun.”
“I love being creative,” Costa said. “So, I knew that I wanted to pick a career where my creativity would be used every day.”
Although Costa had another job offer, she chose to return. “I chose Shaker because of the support from the staff that I got. My English department is phenomenal,” she said. “And I chose Shaker because it was everything that I never had at my school which was diversity, opportunities for all these different clubs and all these different extracurriculars and the community, You can’t beat the community.”
Although Costa said her experience last year as a long-term substitute was rewarding, this year, she has a lot more responsibility. “I’m a lot more communicative with parents and with my students. This is different than the long-term subbing experience because now I have six months experience, so I can actually learn from my mistakes early on.”
Costa looks forward to a class trip to Playhouse Square. “I am most excited about taking my freshman to see a live performance of ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ ” she said. “They’re actually doing it in March this year, which is right around the time we’re doing it, so I’m excited.”
As for Callahan, she looks forward to having Costa next year when she is a senior.
“I am bringing, as an individual, a really wide breadth of knowledge about mindfulness,” Costa said. “So, more of a holistic approach to education. I am a yoga teacher so I really like to incorporate a lot of relaxation strategies for students when they’re stressed. Like, teaching them time management skills, things like that — I feel I really shine.”
Outside of school, Costa enjoys being outdoors. “I love to hike the national parks,” she said. “I spend my time teaching a lot of yoga classes. And what I love most is I run a program called Girlvana.”
According to Costa, Girlvana is a program that offers yoga for teen girls. Along with yoga, the participants also discuss body image, self worth and “issues that girls face everyday in high school,” she said.
Costa enjoys having such conversations with her students as well. “What I bring as a teacher, I’m incredibly compassionate and I just love getting to know my students,” she said.
“She was just really understanding,” Callahan said. “When you said something, she just understood what you were saying.”
Said Costa, “I would love to inspire students to realize their full potential.”