Moving languages

After two decades as a French teacher, Sandra Nitcher decided to retire, but instead returned to teach English.


Leah Brown

Sandra Nitcher explains to her class the expectations for the debate over the book that the class read, “Fahrenheit 451.” Principal Dr. Botts and Assistant Principal Heath Elliott, were asked to sit in on the class debate, and helped Nitcher judge what students had the best talking points during their presentation.

Leah Brown and Avery Liedl

When you enter Ms. Nitcher’s classroom, you can find her whole class participating and greeting her students with a warm smile. You can expect her to walk around, ask how your day is going, and actively engaging with her students from the first bell to the end of the period.

Maize High Sandra Nitcher earned her Bachelor’s degree at Kansas State University and her Master’s degree at Wichita State. Nitcher, who has been teaching for 35 years, decided she wanted to teach because of the experiences she had working with kids and her love for two different languages.

“I have a younger sister who is also a teacher. I loved both French and English in high school and continued loving those classes in college,” Nitcher said, “Teaching was a good way to combine my love for those subjects and my love for working with kids,” Nitcher added.


Avery Liedl and Andrew Percival

After over three decades of focusing her instruction on just French courses, she made the decision to retire and then unretire to take a chance at instructing standard English classes.

She quickly learned that it wasn’t the best time to retire just yet.

“I think I connect well with students which helps them feel comfortable, and they are willing to learn in my classroom, so I know I have to keep teaching,” Nitcher said.

During the first seven years of Nitcher’s teaching career, she started out teaching English, and it wasn’t until last January that she decided that is what she wanted to start teaching again.

She enjoyed French, but she believes it’s best to change things up once in a while to keep things fresh and interesting as an instructor.

“Changing the subjects that I teach does give me a greater appreciation for the different work that is required for core classes and electives,” Nitcher said, “Both require a lot of work — just different kinds of work,” Nitcher added.

“I was a foreign exchange student from Zagreb, Croatia who took your French class back in 92/92. Being away from my family and war, your class provided comfort, your beautiful personality helped me smile more, and adjust easier. When I think of my time in the States, I think of you. And I thank you for that.”

— Iva Lattinger

When deciding what Nitcher wanted to do next, she had support from multiple people, including Maize High principal Dr. Botts, who was highly encouraging of her returning to the classroom.

“I appreciate the English department welcoming me, and being so helpful this first year, back in the English classroom, but I am also grateful to Dr. Botts for supporting me when I decided to make this change,” Nitcher said.

Nitcher has had the opportunity to teach all different kinds of students and grade levels, which vary from students who have lived in Maize all their lives to foreign exchange students that are brand new to learning our language in the U.S.

Senior Julianne Rautureau attends Maize High and enjoyed the experience of having Ms. Nitcher as her English teacher last semester. Rautureau is a foreign exchange student from France and appreciates how Nitcher helped her build a foundation within the language.

“Typically it is hard for foreign exchange students to make friends and adapt easily in a new country, and you feel like you are the only one who speaks your first language,” Rautureau said, “But Ms. Nitcher has truly been such a good resource when trying to understand certain things,” Rautureau added.

Maize High junior Davin Hinote poses for a picture with Nitcher, as a memory, reminding each other of the many moments they have shared in class. Nitcher has had Hinote in her French and now in her English class as well. (Leah Brown)

Nitcher has equally enjoyed her time being around Julianne and enjoys the language connection they have in their class and Encor as well.

“I think it was helpful for her to have someone who knows the challenges of learning and speaking another language, who could help her with the novels we read in class,” Nitcher said, “It’s also nice for me to have a French connection in my day,” Nitcher added.

Maize High junior Cesar Martinez is one of a few students who has had Nitcher for both English and French classes. Martinez’ perspective on learning in general has changed because of how interesting Nitcher’s teaching approach is.

“Ms. Nitcher is different from the rest of the teachers because she has so much enthusiasm to offer the class, and even though she is a teacher, she is also a best friend and is always willing to listen to your problems, and anything else you want to talk to her about,” Martinez said. “And now having her for French and English, really shows you how amazing she is, because not every teacher can make such an easy transition from subject to subject,” Martinez added.