Jun. 8—Mikella Eichen, fourth grade teacher at Atkinson Academy, is honored to have been selected as a semi-finalist for the 2023 New Hampshire Teacher of the Year Award.
"I had to read the letter over three or four times to make sure it was real," she said.
Eichen originally began her studies in Spanish at Plymouth State University on a dance scholarship, but after an internship with kids in Lincoln, she knew teaching was her passion.
"It inspired me to be able to work with kids and see their growth," she said.
Following graduation, Eichen started her teaching journey at the Whitefield School, while also running her own dance business.
"I would teach during the day until about 3:30 pm, and then I would teach dance at night until about 8:30," Eichen said.
From there she moved to teach at the Ellis School before joining the Hampstead Central School, where she cites a majority of her growth in education.
"It was like jumping on a treadmill going 90 miles an hour, while also holding a stack of plates," she said. "It was high expectations, but I learned a lot and I loved that community."
Eichen worked at other schools across New Hampshire, including Berwick Academy, as Head Second Grade Teacher, and as an inner city teacher in Nashua. Now, in her nineteenth year of teaching, she has found a home at Atkinson Academy.
"I will retire here," Eichen said. "That's how much I love it."
She gushed about her fellow teachers and the community at Atkinson. She was especially proud of her fourth grade students' "phenomenal" progress coming out of the pandemic.
Eichen is one of the 10 semi-finalists chosen out of the 44 nominations across the state. This summer, she will be presenting her teaching story and personal thoughts about opportunities for the future of education in the state to the selection committee.
Eichen is excited about her nomination, because she feels strongly about the future of education in New Hampshire, and she hopes to inspire and motivate other educators. Eichen knows growing up is not always "tulips and rainbows," but every classroom should provide each student with a sense of community.
"It is my mission to make every student that walks into my classroom feel like they belong," she said.
The selection committee will choose finalists over the summer and will visit their schools in the fall before announcing the winner by Oct. 1. If she wins, Eichen will be New Hampshire's entrant into the National Teacher of the Year program.