Nicole Fukuhara, WSU student
Nicole Fukuhara

College students who aspire to teach mathematics are a pretty small subset. Among secondary education majors at Washington State University, Nicole Fukuhara might even be an “N” of one. She wants to be a tutor, not a classroom teacher.

Not that Nicole wouldn’t do a great job instructing a classroom full of students. She absolutely shone in her secondary teaching methods course, says instructor Francene Watson. Francene, a veteran teacher, recently wrote a letter of support as part of Nicole’s application for a General John A. Wickham Scholarship. In it, she recounted the first lesson that Nicole gave in the methods course.

“She was incredibly professional, poised, attentive and interested in how her ‘students’ (peers) were learning. She possessed a kind of ‘with-it’ teacher presence,” Francene wrote.

Francene is nudging Nicole to consider a classroom career. She’s considering that, but remains attracted to tutoring.

“In the one-on-one setting, I can really tell if someone understands the lesson,” she said. “I really like those ‘light bulb’ moments.”

Nicole, a Silverdale resident, is a graduate of Central Kitsap High School. She got her first tutoring experience with a much younger student.

“One of my mom’s friends asked if I would tutor her daughter, and I did that off and on for three or four years,” she said. “After graduation, I got a job helping out in summer school as a teacher’s aide. I’d walk around and help students with their work.”

These days, she tutors college students in math at WSU’s Academic Enrichment Center.

After arriving in Pullman to study math, she contacted a tutoring company to ask what kind of credentials she’d need to work for them. That’s when she decided to pursue the degree in secondary education.

Wherever career path she takes, Francene is sure Nicole will be succeed—just as she succeeded in landing that $2,000 Wickham scholarship.