M.J. Nickless has worked in schools all over the country and this is her first year working in Council Bluffs.
Nickless is a native of central Iowa, and she’s starting the school year as the new counselor at St. Albert Catholic Schools. She attended Iowa State University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and later earned her master’s degree in counseling and leadership.
Her first teaching job was for a small district in Arizona where she taught sixth-graders. A few years later she moved to Florida, where her brother lived, to teach and also train horses. She said she’s been passionate about the equestrian world for most her life, and she spent a lot of time in Florida taking care of a “racehorse reject.”
She spent several years teaching first grade and later, fifth grade, before coming back to Iowa State for her master’s program. After years of teaching, Nickless said she wanted to do more with the students who came to her with problems.
“That’s when I knew I wanted to become a counselor,” she said.
After her second round of college, Nickless moved to Stuart for her first counseling position. She later taught and counseled in Ames and moved back to Arizona before coming back to the Midwest. She worked in Millard, Nebraska, for the past 11 years before getting her position across the river at St. Albert.
“It’s a lot of change,” she said. “But it’s been great to experience how different schools run things. I got to see many different perspectives.”
She said she’s looking forward to a new experience at St. Albert. She said she is focused on establishing relationships with students and their families.
“That’s the heart of the whole job,” she said. “I always love it when kids know they can come to me and tell me what’s on their minds, whether it’s good or bad.”