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Teacher Feature: Lincoln School's Brian Niemsyk

His work as a volunteer led to a career as an educator.

Lincoln School teacher Brian Niemsyk's teaching career began in a somewhat unusual way. A volunteer with the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, Niemsyk - who is retired from the Air Force - realized that he loved helping people and working with children. So, after initially studying engineering in college, Niemsyk, 45, switched his focus to education. He is now the head of the middle school program at Lincoln, where he teaches students in grades six through eight. The 1984 Cranford High School graduate is married with an 8-year-old son.

What made you become a teacher?

"I volunteered with the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless and worked with children. I enjoyed it; I just enjoyed working with them."

What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about teaching?

"Seeing the kids succeed, or after you've assisted a student and helped them overcome an obstacle, and they come and tell you about it. It makes you feel good."

What's the funniest thing a student has ever said or done?

The students were asking how much time was left in a class. The teacher responded, asking "You want to know how much time is lft in this wonderful class?" The student replied, "yes, all but the 'wonderful' part."

What do you like to do with your spare time, when you're not in the classroom?

"I like to workout, run, lift weights. I used to do mixed martial arts, and I love surfing and the beach."

What are the biggest challenges about being a teacher?

"Trying to be fair, because what one student thinks is fair, the other may not. Also, trying to be on your game every day. With these students, you always have to be ready to go. Also trying to find what motivates them."

What would people be surprised to know about you?

"I'm not as serious as I look, or as serious as people think I am."

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