Get to Know Isabelle!

Nicholson shares experiences with Taher, connecting with students


Allyson Jay

Nicholson serves students and teachers everyday, typically at the counter near the sandwich station. Here, she serves and talks with Precious Jones ‘22 during first lunch.

If you’ve been in the lunchroom, you have probably seen Isabelle Nicholson. The kind, bubbly server that never fails to make people around her smile with her fun compliments and attitude. 

Isabelle started working for Taher around a year ago to earn some money. She commented that “Last year, my mom [who works for Taher] worked here [at Blake] and I got my job through her actually. So that’s how I started working here but my mom doesn’t work at this location anymore.” Isabelle described her mom as “an older white woman that worked in the gym when that was a lunchroom.”

The kitchen staff’s mornings start early as every morning Nicholson gets here at 7 am while some of the other chefs get here at 6 or 6:30 and sometimes “earlier than that. They have to prepare everything for the whole day.” Nicholson starts her work day by washing her hands and putting her apron on. Nicholson then goes to prepare the food, stating that “We each have a sheet that says what we have to do for the day and my sheet said [today] to cut and glaze the brownies. Normally I have to cut and glaze what I prepped yesterday and then prepare the dessert for tomorrow. I normally serve, which takes up the whole time. It mostly consists of me baking and prepping for the next day.”

Throughout the day she will listen to a variety of different music and help out around the kitchen wherever it’s needed. Nicholson is in charge of preparing the baked goods, which makes sense considering she has been around them her whole life.                           

Growing up her mom owned a bakery and Nicholson would spend her time being with her mom and staying in the bakery. As for Blake’s desserts though, specifically the cookies, “we order them [cookies] in bulk so I just bake them. The cookies I do make are the oatmeal raisin cookies, those I make from scratch.”

After she is done making the dessert for the day and prepping for tomorrow, she will start serving. The meals in general at Blake are not picked by the kitchen staff but instead by Taher. Nicholson explained that “the district picks out what we make for the year or the week. Unless something goes wrong, we don’t pick out the food. Sometimes we have to adjust and swap things out…like today, the brownies were supposed to be blondies but we ran out of that mix so we had to swap it.”

Nicholson didn’t get to pick which location she worked at, commenting that “they [Taher] assigned me here…I’ve worked here for about a year now.”

Although not getting to pick the location, her favorite part about working at Blake is, “I really like, well not serving, but I love seeing all of the kid’s outfits and I love complimenting people. It just makes me smile when I see you guys light up and you’re like ‘Oh my God I got this from this’ and you stand up and show your outfit because I didn’t get that in high school.”

Isabelle has quickly captured the attention of the student body with her kind and thoughtful compliments that make people smile. She states that the reason behind these compliments is “I just wish that somebody was there to do that for me and make me feel good. I know how high school is, even though this is a really good school, you’re still teenagers.” Being at Blake has “really inspired me and all of the kids were talking about how the teachers all really care and it inspired me to want to be a teacher and help other kids.”

Nicholson commented that once she heard “Kids talking about their IEP [Individualized Education Program]  and they were not complaining. In high school, I would always complain about it I would always feel sh*ty about it. In high school, my counselor never talked to me ever.”

Nicholson grew up in Minnesota and attended Southwest Highschool although she was born in Chicago and has moved “at least 11 times.” After she graduated from high school she “tried college but I realized I was not in the right mindset and that’s totally okay you don’t have to go to college right after high school. I made that mistake and tried to push myself.” After that, Nicholson ended up taking a gap year.     

Now, she is saving up money for college and recently bought her own place. After college, she wants to “be a teacher for kids with special needs or learning disabilities because, at my high school, I was not catered to at all…It would be awesome if I could be a teacher or a museum curator, which is a person that picks out what goes in museums and picks displays.”

Nicholson truly cares about the student body, which is evident through the kindness she shows to everyone around her. Isabelle closed with “You guys are so lucky to be able to come here because I look and I see the teachers care, the students are good students. It’s LGBT, there are black teachers. I wish I had that opportunity and it’s so awesome to see that kids younger than me have the opportunity to go to this amazing school…it just makes me warm and fuzzy.”