Phebe and Zephaniah Swift Moore Teaching Award

English teacher
Ernest S. McBride Sr. High School Long Beach, California

The day she received the news of her acceptance to Amherst, graduating senior Irma Zamora ran around her high school campus to share the news with her favorite teachers. Nicole Gharda was one of them. Gharda’s own college diploma, displayed proudly above her desk, served as invitation to Zamora.“I think it was the incredible impressiveness of this diploma,” Zamora writes in her nomination,“that encouraged me to have a conversation with her about college and my future plans.” Those conversations proved transformative. At the time, Irma was applying to some private colleges, but only to satisfy her counselor’s expectations.“I was not truly excited for college until [Mrs. Gharda] talked to all of us in class about the importance of college for intellectual and personal growth.” In a predominantly working-class community, Gharda understood the import of supporting first-generation students both inside and outside the classroom. “The great thing about Mrs. Gharda is not only that she is a great English teacher,” says Zamora.“She is one of those few teachers who understands the importance of her role as an instructor and uses it to inspire students.”