The latest New Yorker of the Week is educating and inspiring her students to reach the next level.
Nicola Clarke is a math teacher with Grace Outreach, a nonprofit that helps women get their GEDs and prepare for college. It's a program she graduated from herself, in 2009.
Clarke immigrated to the city from Jamaica in 1996. She got an education while she lived in Jamaica, but that degree didn't necessarily translate to the States, so she enrolled in the program.
After she graduated, Grace Outreach hired her as a tutor. She then worked her way up to her position as a teacher.
Clarke says she always loved math and was always good at it, but she says her love for education and teaching developed more after she moved to the U.S.
"Education doesn't stop. You're always learning. It's a continuous process and it's good to get information," she says. "There is no limit to learning."
Clarke says she relates to the struggles of the hundreds of women she has helped graduate from the program. In addition to teaching full-time in the program, she is a mother to four girls and a full-time student, a double major in math and education at Hunter College.
"A lot of our students always say, 'Oh, I have kids, I can't do this,'" Clarke says. "But I try to motivate them. I'm their example."
"I've got a 3-year-old. She has daughters, too. She works, and she goes to school. So for me, that's like hope for me," said Ann Espirit, a student with Grace Outreach.
Clarke's colleagues describe her as shy and humble, but they say she means business in the classroom. They say her experience, plus a kind heart, is the formula to her success.
"She is basically the example of 'you can do it all,'" said Bintou Darboe, an assistant teacher at Grace Outreach. "She is a role model in most of our eyes. I know she's my role model."
Clarke herself says she is trying to teach her students that there is no problem that is too difficult to solve.
"I'm proud that I'm part of making dreams come true," Clarke said. "That's what it is. We're making dreams reality."