As the director of the Arkansas Rural Education Network (AREN), Nicole Bolen supports districts and schools in the partnership and serves on the content development team, contributing to various NIET projects. Nicole has assisted district and school leaders in implementing best practices of highly effective schools, increasing teacher effectiveness, and positively impacting student achievement.
Nicole's dedication to the education profession spans over 23 years. Prior to joining the NIET team, she supported teachers, administrators, and district-level personnel as district-based TAP executive master teacher with DeSoto Parish Schools in northwest Louisiana and TAP master teacher with the Rapides Parish Schools in central Louisiana. During her tenure with DeSoto Parish, she assisted the district and schools with full implementation of the TAP System, including adoption and support of new teaching standards and models for high-quality instructional leadership teams and professional learning communities. Additionally, she coached and supported school administrators, master teachers, and mentor teachers to build their capacity around instructional leadership skills. These include establishing the school vision and goals, designing and delivering professional development, evaluating instruction and learning, and providing constructive feedback to teachers through reflective coaching.
Since implementation of the TAP System, DeSoto Parish has shown remarkable growth − moving from 45th in the state in 2009 to 12th in 2019. DeSoto's increase in performance and graduation rates, among other accomplishments, earned the district an NIET District Award of Excellence for Educator Effectiveness in 2019.
Nicole holds a bachelor's degree in education from Louisiana College, including certifications in early childhood, elementary education, and special education. She also holds a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction from Louisiana State University and certification as an early childhood generalist from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.