After graduating high school, Nikki D’Onghia, a native New Yorker, moved to Myrtle Beach for the same reason so many others have: she loved the beach and hated snow.

Now eight years into her teaching career, local children have been the beneficiary of D’Onghia’s passion for the coast and warm weather.

Currently a fifth grade teacher, D’Onghia’s was the inaugural winner of Rockin’ Jump’s Teacher of the Month contest.

Here is your chance to get to know the ever-popular teacher:

Walk us through the stops in your teaching career?
I have been in the Myrtle Beach cluster my entire teaching career. I taught my first seven years in 4th grade at Myrtle Beach Intermediate which then transitioned to the new Myrtle Beach Elementary where I teach 5th grade. I was lucky enough to have an amazing class that I wanted to stay with another year, so we moved from fourth grade to fifth grade together.

What led you into teaching and what continues to motivate you?
I have always loved helping people, especially kids, and I never saw myself doing anything but teaching. I think the thing that continues to motivate me is helping my students be successful not only academically but emotionally and mentally. Fourth and fifth grade is such a pivotal age for students, it is our job to help ensure they have all the tools they need to be successful not only in school, but in life.

What was your reaction to winning the award? What was the reaction of your class?
I was super excited and shocked to see RJ pop his head in our classroom window. I was actually having a small group lesson while others were working collaboratively and our classroom quickly turned into a small party as my kids were just as excited and shocked as I was.

Have you been to Rockin Jump before? If so, what was your experience like?
I have been to Rockin Jump before. It was my first time at a trampoline park and it was amazing! I have never experienced something like that and I enjoyed all the fun activities you can do along with just jumping.

What do you find most rewarding about being a teacher?
Two things I find most rewarding about being a teacher are when students who have been struggling have a break through and the light bulb turns on. They know they worked hard and got to have their moment of success. Another thing that is extremely rewarding is when students come back years later and tell you of their successes both in and out of the classroom. That is also one of the many perks of being in the Myrtle Beach cluster, we are all so close, students can easily come back to visit and keep in touch with their previous teachers.

Outside of the classroom, what are some of your interests?
I enjoy going to the beach, reading a good book, hanging out with my dog, Bailey, and scrolling through Pinterest.

Did you play sports growing up?
I played sports from kindergarten through high school. For softball, I was the pitcher and first baseman through high school. I also played basketball, where I was the forward and volleyball where I was the left side hitter.