Bringing aha moments to the classroom

Fiona Oberhofer, Staff Writer

As a former Cretin-Derham Hall graduate, Nick Giles ’03 is a perfect example of a teacher who creates both a warm and welcoming environment for his students. He is a teacher that many students love and is an integral part of the Cretin-Derham Hall community. Growing up as an only child, Giles had to entertain himself, which made him become more creative than the people around him. When he got older, he found that art came naturally to him, so after high school, when he had no idea what he wanted to do, he decided to take several art classes in college. His professors told him he should transfer to River Falls and go into education to be an art teacher.

“It worked out well because being in the art and hands-on was important. I didn’t want to be stuck in a cubicle every day,” said Giles.

Student interactions are a big part of teaching and something that Giles values. Initially, when he started teaching, he helped students too much, but, now, he has learned to let them go through that trial-and-error process. He likes to see students work to overcome obstacles they face in his class. 

“I love when you see a student give that reaction like a light bulb goes off in their head, and that usually comes after failing and trying again,” he said. 

The trial and error process is Giles’ favorite thing about art. He likes engineering solutions to the problems he faces and learning from his mistakes along the way. He believes the mistakes help him grow as a person and an artist.

“Sometimes you have to go back and change up what you’re making to get a better product. It’s really basically learning. I still like learning,” he said. 

Giles teaches many art classes at CDH. He likes the real-world application that jewelry making offers his students and enjoys teaching graphic design because it’s a chance to share one of his own passions with his students. Getting to use the resources in the STEAM center has recently enriched the class. However, his favorite class to teach is yearbook. He believes the yearbook has a long-lasting impact on his students, as well as the whole school.

“Somebody is going to look at it forever. So when my name is attached to it, I take the most pride in finishing and accomplishing it,” said Giles. 

It is clear that not only will Giles’ yearbooks stay with students forever but also his teaching.

Giles’ teaching allows students to have their own moments of self-discovery. (Fiona Oberhofer)