Wilkes University

Les Nicholas '81

A personal note from Hall of Fame teacher Les Nicholas, Wilkes U class of 1981:


Les NicholasI write to encourage you to consider furthering your academic career at Wilkes University. I recognize that you face a difficult decision that will impact the rest of your life, so let me share how my decision to attend Wilkes made all the difference for me.

I came to Wilkes with a fire in my belly. By God, I was going to change the world if it took until March! And my education professors did not give in to the cynicism of the age and tell me that frustrations and disappointments would likely put that fire out. Instead, they fueled my fire and encouraged me to become a teacher who makes a difference.

Wilkes prepared me exceptionally well for my career in the classroom, but I never dreamed I would receive the validation for my work that I have. I attribute my success to the strong foundation I received at Wilkes. My education professors did not tell me what I saw. They reminded me to open my eyes. They did not tell me what to think. They encouraged me to open my mind. My professors worked hard to prepare me for every aspect of the job.

The changes that have taken place in education over the past three decades are remarkable, but I have been able to adjust easily because Wilkes taught me that teachers must be the models for life-long learning. Wilkes taught me that good educators have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.

I live in nearby Kingston, Pa., so I visit the beautiful campus often. I am amazed at how much has changed since I was a student – new buildings, different professors, and even a name change (it was Wilkes College when I attended) – but the superior education delivered by caring, compassionate professors remains the same.

If you want to become a teacher who makes a difference, I strongly encourage you to consider my alma mater, Wilkes University. It made all the difference for me.


Leslie J. Nicholas ’81
English Teacher, Wyoming Valley West Middle School
2012 NEA Foundation's Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence
2009 National Teachers Hall of Fame Inductee
2009 Great American Teacher Finalist
2006 USA Today All USA Teacher Team
2005 Disney Teacher
2004 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year
2002 Pennsylvania Journalism Teacher of the Year