Digital Story Project: The Story of a Teacher

Meet Nicole Hagan, my grandma.

Nicole began her life in Brussels, Belgium growing up during German occupation of Europe in WWII. After years of living in a strict and abusive school system and a harsh political climate, she left Belgium at the age of 15 for the United States. There, her relationship with school changed. She made it her life’s work to help other students.


“My negative experience, I think, reinforced my positive teaching.”

Nicole Hagan

Nicole Hagan was born in Brussels Belgium in 1935.  Just a five years later, in 1940, Germany occupied Belgium.  She hated going to  school, where her teachers were strict and abusive, and told her should would never amount to anything.  So, she promised herself one thing : “I will never become a teacher.”

At the age of 15, she left Belgium by herself, and came to the United States.  There, she had teachers and people who cared about her, and wanted to see her succeed.  She began to love learning, and soon teaching, because she saw it was a way she could really help others.  


Soon she started her career as a teacher and would continue teaching for over 40 years.  Her time as a teacher not only changed her life, but she said she always did it to change the lives of others, and to make sure they were helped in a way that she wasn’t.  


Here is her story