For teachers across the Ottawa area, dedication and commitment to excellence comes with the territory. But often, educators realize that students need an extra push – that certain something that accelerates good to great.

And in many cases, simply the example teachers strive to exemplify in the classroom can resonate with students forever.

While undergoing chemotherapy to treat a persistent cancer, Coopersville High School physics teacher Jim Nicolas was hospitalized with life-threatening pneumonia.

While some employees would have taken the time off to address their illness, teachers like Jim Nicolas go the extra mile to ensure that learning continues, putting personal issues aside to ensure that students receive the best education possible.

"His first priority was, how am I going to get my classes covered, what am I going to do to make sure kids aren't missing anything in the curriculum?" said Principal Pete Bush of Coopersville High School.

As his students were approaching a lesson on the series of parallel circuits, Jim knew he had to teach, he couldn't risk letting his students fail.

"My main motivation was I know this material gets put on the ACT all the time, I know they have to do well on their ACT," Jim said.

Despite requiring a hospitalization, Jim taught his students using Skype, an online communications tools, never missing a day of class despite the harsh drugs coursing through his system.

As doctors and nurses came in throughout his hospital stay to check his health, Jim ignored his persistent pain, setting up a webcam in his hospital room to teach his students, while a substitute teacher sat in the classroom to offer support when needed.

"My job that I was getting paid to do was to teach kids, so, you teach kids." Jim explained.

Remarkably, students excelled on the test, performed better than on any other exam throughout the year. Jim's dedication to his students and determination to do his job well taught his students a lesson in the series of parallel circuits, but even greater lessons on life – commitment and dedication.

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