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Nolan Flores '07, BS in Biology, MSEd in Education and Human Development
Nolan Flores has worked at Wayne Central School District for 11 years now. A District representative noticed Flores potential at a job fair held by The College at Brockport, offering him a job before he even walked across the stage for graduation. But, Nolan didn't always know that he wanted to teach. It wasn't until after he went to Harlem, NY as an undergraduate biology major to perform a gel electrophoresis lab for inner-city students that he realized how the gratification of teaching.
"Seeing how much the student's loved the experiment sparked my switch to education," Nolan said. "I chose to transfer to Brockport because of the Education department's great reputation in the area. Many of my favorite teachers attended Brockport and they all highly recommended it."
At the College, Nolan grew as a student and teacher thanks to the incredible professors that influenced him along the way. Nolan still maintains his relationship with the College; helping set up research and internships for his students. For example, Nolan's former professor, Dr. Laurie Cook, specializes in cell biology. When one of Nolan's previous students came to him looking for an opportunity to explore research in that field, he reached out to Dr. Cook and helped secure them a spot in her lab.
The main reason Nolan chose to pursue his master's degree at Brockport was because of Dr. Peter Veronesi. As an undergraduate, Nolan took a few classes with Dr. Veronesi and quickly realized that he wanted to continue his studies under him. Nolan decided to attend graduate school at Brockport and later took his capstone and wrote his advanced thesis with Dr. Veronesi and he still has a heavy influence on Nolan today.
"Dr. Veronesi has been extremely influential on my career, dating back to my very first class at Brockport when he showed up in a NASA space suit," Nolan laughed. "He taught me how to connect with students and get them engaged in learning."
At Wayne High School, Nolan teaches biology to high school students, but his involvement in the community doesn't end there. He is the head coach of varsity golf, a personal passion of his, and the MasterMinds team. He uses the experience to engage with his students outside of the classroom. His hard work payed off after the golf team won the Finger Lakes League Championship in 2017, resulting in him receiving the Finger Lakes Coach of the Year award. While a great accomplishment, Nolan values his relationship with his students and their success far more.
"Nothing can compare to the feeling of watching these students grow and make good life decisions along the way," Nolan said. "I have been chosen as 'Teacher of Significance' by a handful of my graduating students, including a valedictorian and salutatorian, and that feeling is incomparable."
Nolan's passion for inspiring his students lead him to joining the New York State Master Teachers Program (NYSMTP) in 2015. NYSMTP looks to inspire the best teachers in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and reward them for their efforts to engage student learning in their respective fields. Their belief is that inspired teachers will ultimately result in attracting students into careers in STEM fields, including STEM education.
"Many of my students have gone on to pursue careers in a STEM field," Nolan said. "One of my former students is going to college to become a biology teacher and she substitute teaches for my class from time to time."
Nolan sees a great future at Wayne High School. He plans to improve on his teaching and further expand his sphere of influence through the NYSMTP to help better the school and his community. His work ethic stems from the lessons he learned from his father, who emigrated from Portugal.
"My father was a self-taught electrician and spent his entire working career with one company," Nolan said. "He believed in hard work and learning to grow while building a foundation. I have tried to carry this growth mind set into my classroom as I continue to do the best that I can for my students every day."