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“Tom is awesome. He is on time, great with kids, and very creative. I am certain you will be impressed by his teaching skills and work with children.”

Matthew Fisher

Assistant Director of Teaching Resources Center/SELF Design Studio

UNC Greensboro


“Mr. Nevels uses examples from everyday life to make connections to the material. His positive attitude encourages students to be creative in class.”

Charlotte Willis Holmes

Regional Coach/Curriculum Support for Special Programs

Alamance-Burlington Schools


“He is an incredible teacher and is extremely organized and works well with others. He loves working with children and is extremely creative.”

Marshall M. Qualls

Development Officer and Teacher

The Burlington School

“Mr. Nevels is a student advocate and works to include all students in his activities, especially those students who have a gift in the arts but may struggle in the day-to-day social interactions that occur in a high school.”

Lynn Briggs

Former Principal

Hugh M. Cummings High School


“Not only has he taught me about acting, but he has also shown me the importance of being an up front person by encouraging words and teaching by example. He allowed his passion about design to light a fire in me and strive to see my work come to fruition in ways that I couldn’t have imagined.”

Maiya Reaves

Former Student


“I love how he surprised the kids and held their attention. The level of engagement matched Nevels’ level of enthusiasm and energy!”

Sarah Jacks

Director of Vocational Services/ Production Manager

Pathway 2 Employment


“Mr. Nevels’ activities promote critical thinking, enhance students’ performance skills, and give students authentic learning opportunities in which they find meaning, relevance, and importance in their lives. Even students who don’t share his enthusiasm for theatre cannot overlook the relevance and timeliness of the activities, which he provides for them.”

Jason Baldwin

English Teacher

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools

“Mr. Nevels is a creative and inspiring teacher who does a tremendous job of promoting and spotlighting the best of Graham High School. The time he spends with students is invaluable and his involvement in making Graham High School a better place for them is greatly appreciated.”

Jamie Defelice

Former Principal

Graham High School


“Mr. Nevels was very passionate about teaching students and emphasized the process of learning versus the emphasis on the finished product. He provided a structured environment with clear guidelines and a detailed syllabus, something that this classroom had been lacking in previous years. In just four days at Riverside, Mr. Nevels had students excited about technical theatre. He was an active part of our planning meetings for the upcoming musical as well as the performances for each discipline: chorus, band, dance, strings, and theatre. Mr. Nevels was well-liked by colleagues, administrators, and students. In just a short amount of time, he made a positive imprint on our department.”

Jill Boliek

Chorus Teacher Riverside High School


“Our school has a tradition of doing a “Prop Your Peeps” every monthly faculty meeting. The staff emails me stories of how a coworker has gone above and beyond or made things better for students or faculty. Doing a search on my computer for Tom Nevels’ name brings up just about every month’s list. He is either being praised or thanked or he is generously supporting his peers. This is who Tom is – a generous, hard-working, talented professional who is appreciated by his peers for what he does for them and for students. We also have a tradition of visiting each other’s classrooms to do informal observations. I was lucky enough to be able to observe Tom in action. It was clear from the moment class started that Tom had created a safe space for kids in his theater class. They were quick to share personal insights and spoke comfortably about their concerns and ideas before they began their practice sessions and peer critiques. It was also clear that he had trained them to not only know the finer points of the art of acting but to be able to succinctly evaluate a peer’s performance in constructive, graduated terms. That’s not easy to do, even for adults, yet Tom had trained these teenagers to not only act but to be able to think through how to help each other get better and communicate it in clear and compassionate way. Tom understands kids and cares deeply about their success. He has worked supporting our LGBQT student group, looks for opportunities for theatre students in the community and beyond, and is always looking for professional connections to enrich students’ understanding of both the art and the business of theatre. The students know he wants them to do well both in theatre and in navigating all the things life throws at them. He gives them the tools, the experiences, and the foundation they need to succeed. Tom Nevels is a talented professional, a compassionate person, and a valuable asset to the teaching community.”

Alex LeMay

6-12 Science Teacher

Durham School of the Arts


“Mr. Nevels empowered and supported me to find my voice, pursue my dreams, command the room and always listen. I cannot thank him enough for helping me to be where I am today. The arts are endlessly valuable to a student but even more, a strong art teacher is beyond words.”

Alexandria Huber

Former Student


“Tom immediately brought vim and vigor to our Theatre Department. He helped to lead us in unpacking our new Essential Standards for Theatre.  In fact, Tom was the Durham Public Schools Lead Teacher for theatre. He was a charismatic and effective Lead Teacher. Student achievement has always been the cornerstone of every collaboration I have done with Tom. He invested much time in making sure that ALL of our students (not only the students in his classes) were successful, helping to guide and foster their love of theatre. During his tenure at DSA, Tom organized numerous education field trips (NYC, Washington DC, Los Angeles, UNC-G College Discovery Day, Playmakers, among others), directed and won statewide awards while competing in the NCTC High School Play Festival each year, and revived our International Thespian Society – which is now 100+ strong.  In 2013, Tom was selected by The Center for International Understanding to travel to India with their Teacher Study Abroad Program.  Upon returning, Tom integrated his new, rich understanding of Indian culture into his unit/lesson plans.  Three years ago, Tom’s brainchild, STAGE CENTER, came to fruition.  [Now,] each Fall, DPS theatre teachers come together to teach theatre workshops to students from across the district.”

Douglas J. Graves

Theatre Department, Chair

Durham School of the Arts









“I have known Tom to be an enriching and impactful educator for over four years. The underlying current to Tom’s work in the classroom is that every decision he makes, every point of curriculum that he tweaks, and every late hour spent after school, is solely dedicated to the betterment of the students he teaches. Tom’s goal as an educator has never been to work for accolades and fanfare from his administration or district (though he has received them), but rather to work to see his students make meaningful connections, take notable strides in their growth, and embody pride in their learning. I have seen Tom take an un-energized high school theater program and turn it into a place where students are vibrantly working under his leadership. He spent countless hours creating and teaching a curriculum that was in-depth and required his students to dig deep and work diligently. This work, in turn, over time, built students who had an all-encompassing view and understanding of the craft of acting and theater tech. Further, Tom fervently prepared these students to enter collegiate programs focusing on these art forms where they were competitive forces amongst their peers due to the training they received from Tom. Tom is a born teacher. He is a North Carolina teacher. His passion is education, and his home is this state. He has spent years building himself into the teacher that he is today and has made the conscious decision to dedicate his gift to this state.”

Sean Grier

Former Co-Director of Choral Activities

Durham School of the Arts


“I love all of what you have brought to A+, and what you have brought to me.”

Marta King

Former A+ Fellow & Theatre Educator


"Just wanted to say thank you for our A+ Leadership Meeting today.  It was nice to connect with our fellow A+ schools.  It is amazing that through this crazy pandemic - you all have kept A+ going and been there for all the A+ schools.  You all have had to come up with new ways to share A+ with everyone and you all have done an amazing job.  I do look forward to the day we can meet in person again - especially for our summer workshops!!  I miss those:))  Thanks again - to everyone!!!"

Ginger Rackley

A+ Coordinator

Saluda Elementary School


My own daughter has benefited greatly from attending our A+ school for her last two years of elementary school. Now, as a high school freshman, she was reflecting on how being in an A+ school renewed her waning interest in learning. She is slightly dyslexic and has to work very hard to do well in school. But in 5th grade, she took a multiple intelligences inventory with her teacher and discovered she is “people smart” and that it matters! Now my daughter, Rebecca, wants to be an EC teacher! She told me just last week, “Since I’m “people smart”, I can relate to, and empathize with the kids, and encourage them to keep working hard. So as an educator and a mom, I truly believe the A+ concept works!!!”

A+ Teacher & Parent

Brevard Elementary School


"Every school wants students to be highly engaged, critical thinkers, and to be immersed in relevant experiences.  21st-century learning is about creating rigorous, relevant, and innovative learning experiences which students can learn to apply, both in the classroom and beyond the classroom.  The beauty of the A+ model is that it builds a bridge for every teacher and every student from wherever they are, to effective 21st-century learning.  It allows every child to connect with learning in relevant ways and through artistic connections, in ways that they can think, feel, and relate to.  At campuses where the A+ model is fully implemented; you will not be able to find a student who is unplugged from the learning.  For our staff, the institute is an experiential training in which teachers learn to feel what students will feel, and how they can create those same environments in their classroom for every kid, every day.  No other program I have observed moves the needle on the breadth and depth of learning quite like A+ Schools."

A+ Principal

Beverlye Intermediate School


“I am so grateful for you and every aspect of A+! There are no amount of words or emotions that could express how much I have learned and grown as a result of A+ PD, A+ fellows and the A+ essentials. They will forever be a part of who I am and how I interact with others both within and without of the education field.”

Former A+ Teacher


“Thank you for your hard work for students, teachers, educators, Fellows, and Education!”

Gideon Young

A+ Fellow & Poet


“Bravo on yet another well-executed Human Library! It could not have happened without you and the astounding amount of legwork you did to prepare! I know our community is better for it.”

Jenny Levine

Humanities & Adult Programming Coordinator

Durham County Public Library

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