HomeFeaturesFeatures › Making the Grade—Five Fabulous Valley Teachers

From early-morning prep sessions to after-school tutoring, these five fabulous Valley teachers have devoted their lives to inspiring students to reach the unreachable. Here are their stories.

Sister Joanie Nuckols, B.V.M. Xavier College Preparatory

For Sister Joanie Nuckols, B.V.M., teaching at Phoenix- based Xavier College Preparatory, an all-girls Catholic high school, is nothing less than joyous. And if her words don’t fully express her passion, listening to her teach certainly will. “She is very down to earth,” says Sydney Snyder, a former Advanced Placement European History student. “She makes the subject interesting by being very interactive.”
Born and raised in Butte, Mont., Sister Nuckols attended St. Ann’s, a Catholic school, where she realized early on her enthusiasm to become a teacher. Her grade school instructors and mother, who was a teacher herself, became Sister Nuckols’s inspiration and motivation.
After graduating from Clark College in Dubuque, Iowa, Sister Nuckols started teaching in 1971.
Her thirst for continued knowledge earned her two additional master’s degrees: one in modern European history and one in educational administration.
Over time, Sister Nuckols advanced to department chair of social studies and, eventually, vice principal of Academics and Campus Ministry. As vice principal, she continues to teach A.P. European History, an elective for juniors and seniors, and Honors United States History, which is only taught during summer school. Regardless of the class, the teacher’s ending goal is always the same: That “students understand why things happened in the past,” she says. “And why the world is the way it is today is based upon the history we have gone through.”