At Peekapak, we celebrate educators. These amazing, passionate, and dedicated individuals bring joy to learning every day. We’ve been incredibly lucky to have a special group of educators supporting our growth – The Peekapals: Our Peekapak Ambassadors! Our Meet the Peekapals series showcases their personal achievements, thoughts on education and SEL, and more.
Peekapal: Nick Clayton
Nick has been training educators for nine years. Currently, he is a Special Education and Technology teacher for grades 4 – 6 at Puesta Del Sol Elementary School in Victorville, CA. He lives with Amanda, his wife of thirteen years, Mia, his eight-year-old daughter (who started the NPO: @MiasBoxesofLove) and Griffin, his five-year-old son. Nick loves sharing his passion for education and EdTech and loves being a Peekapak Ambassador as it allows him to share his SEL adventures in the classroom. Check out what’s happening in his classroom on Twitter.
PEEKAPAK: Tell us about what you are most proud of accomplishing while working in education?
NICK CLAYTON: One of my most memorable moments was taking fifth-graders on a virtual field trip to Switzerland. I facilitated a connection with Google to talk to the creators of Solar Impulse, the first and only solar-powered airplane to circumnavigate the globe. The students that joined in were disadvantaged and many have never left their city. But here, they had the opportunity to talk to scientists and were interviewed like there was no one more important on the planet. It was amazing to participate in.
P: What do you find the most challenging about teaching? The most rewarding?
NC: My biggest challenges come when I am not able to reach a student. I pride myself on building relationships and getting to the root of what may be going on. I try to help my students with their baggage so that they may be able to learn more confidently. My most rewarding experiences come from the toughest students. When I finally reach through their hard, protective shells, it is so rewarding to watch them grow.
P: In your opinion, what is the importance of social-emotional learning (SEL)?
NC: Social-emotional learning allows students to understand their feelings and emotions to help them learn in a more effective way. It removes the stigma from social settings.
P: What do you envision for the future of education and how do you suggest we get there?
NC: The future of education is one where students are given the opportunity to learn no matter the bounds of their financial situations or baggage. Social-emotional learning will help these situations as generations progress. When students are aware of their emotions and taught how to properly socialize, they will be more effective in helping to fix the inequalities of society as the policymakers of tomorrow.
P: Tell us about your experience with Peekapak.
NC: My students benefit from the interactions they engage in when discussing the stories and reading letters from the characters. The Kindness unit was particularly helpful with my older students who struggle with understanding the importance of kindness as a tool for effective communication. The Peekapak Pals book “Season of Kindness” was such an amazing story that my students related to on a very personal level. They ended up becoming more helpful to each other and use some of the kindness examples from the book in their school lives. We also completed a sock drive for “Socktober” as a class each year that they coordinate with 15 schools. I’ve found that the Peekapak lessons are so helpful in giving meaning to their actions; it has helped them understand why it is important to volunteer and take action in their community.
Are you an elementary educator or leader interested in becoming a Peekapak Ambassador? If so, please read and fill out this form.