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Nancy Nickerson

Faces of NECC Nancy Nickerson

She never intended to become a math maven, but some might say that is just what happened when she walked on to the campus of NECC more than 30 years ago.

Today she refers to Northern Essex as her second home.

It is here she created a niche – turning the math challenged into confident math students.

Teaching elementary school not math was on Professor Nickerson’s mind when she graduated with degrees in education and psychology from Barrington College. But facing a soft job market, she was inspired to earn a master’s in education research and statistics.

“I just wanted to teach. I didn’t care what I taught. I knew if I understood the information I could teach it,” says Professor Nickerson, who struggled as a student because of difficulty with language processing.

In 1976, she was offered a staff assistant position at NECC charged with creating an informal math lab for walk-ins.

Since then, both Professor Nickerson and the math lab have evolved – she into a math professor whose students praise her sincere and gentle teaching style – the center into a full-service math resource center that addresses the math needs of students taking both developmental and college-level courses.

Since 1990 she has taught math full time. “I believe everyone can be good at math and with it comes confidence,” she says. “If it isn’t meaningful and useful, they won’t bother to learn it.”