Nicole Picchiottino returns to her K-6 alma mater

Nicole (Hoffman) Picchiottino, along with other first- and second-grade students at Idyllwild School, used to slide her lunchbox down the long hall from the cafeteria to the kindergarten classroom to see whose could go farther. “I’m sure I won occasionally,” said Picchiottino. “I’m very competitive.” The game was a longstanding one that teachers goodheartedly tolerated.

Nicole Picchiottino, new sixth-grade teacher at Idyllwild Middle School, was once a student at Idyllwild School. Photo by Marshall Smith

Born in Idyllwild and educated at Idyllwild School until the sixth grade, Picchiottino returned to her grade school alma mater to teach sixth grade, English Language Arts and Social Studies.

The long hall from the cafeteria is still the same. For Picchiottino, a vibrant individual with a devotion to sports and athleticism, the sounds of the lunchboxes racing to the end of the hall probably still echo in her ears.

For sixth grade, Picchiottino and her family moved off the Hill to Hemet because of the availability of more sports and other opportunities for children. She graduated from Hemet High in 1984. While there, she ran track (long jump, 220 and 440) and was a cheerleader.

She attended Mt. San Jacinto Junior College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies from Cal State University, San Bernardino. She also received a Masters in Science in education administration from CSUSB.

She worked in administration for Hemet Unified School District, serving as principal at both Whittier Elementary and Cawston Elementary.

Facing 12-hour-day burnout and some quality-of-life concerns, Picchiottino decided, with the support of her husband Joe, to take time to regroup and have more time for recreational activities she loved.

As an avid mountain biker, Picchiottino now has time to ride and race. She had previously coached the HHS mountain bike team for a short stint and is currently coaching the Idyllwild Middle School team. In her free time, she rides with Mary Metcalf- Collier and her friends from Idyllwild Cycling.

“I’d always been waiting to come back to Idyllwild and Idyllwild School,” said Picchiottino. “It feels like home. It is just where I want to be for the remainder of my career.”