Warhill HS Teacher Competes in ‘Jeopardy!’

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Nicole Throckmorton, a Warhill High School English teacher, with Alex Trebek during the filming of her "Jeopardy!" episode Feb. 24, 2016. (Jeopardy!)
Nicole Throckmorton, a Warhill High School English teacher, with Alex Trebek during the filming of her “Jeopardy!” episode Feb. 24, 2016. (Photo courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.)

A Warhill High School teacher will be among the educators buzzing in for a chance to win $100,000 during Tuesday night’s episode of the question-and-answer game show “Jeopardy!”

Nicole Throckmorton, an American literature and creative writing teacher, is one of 15 teachers competing in the “Jeopardy! Teachers Tournament,” a two-week tournament filmed in Los Angeles and at D.A.R Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.

Her quarterfinal episode will air at 7:30 p.m. May 3 on ABC 13.

Throckmorton, who has taught in WJCC Schools for 18 years, said she has watched “Jeopardy!” since she was a child. She said her sister-in-law told her she once had to “leave the room” while “Jeopardy!” was on because 12-year-old Throckmorton was getting every answer right.

“It’s like a mini puzzle,” Throckmorton said. “A big chunk of it is decoding the answer and coming up with the right question. I was just quick that way.”

Throckmorton took the online “Jeopardy!” quiz, which show producers use to identify potential contestants, four times and auditioned twice before she was chosen for the Teachers Tournament.

After a producer told her “Jeopardy!” auditions 3,000 people per year for only 300 slots, Throckmorton said she was “bowled over” by the fact she would be on the show.

“It felt like an achievement, and also it’s just an honor,” Throckmorton said.

Want to Watch?

Throckmorton’s quarterfinal episode airs at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on ABC 13.

Warhill High School will host a screening in the commons from 7 to 8 p.m. The school is located at 4615 Opportunity Way in Williamsburg.

The five episodes of the quarterfinals were filmed Feb. 24 in Los Angeles and the semifinals and finals were filmed April 10 in Washington, D.C. The winner of the championship will take home $100,000 and will be invited to compete in the “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions.

Since taping the episode, Throckmorton said people ask her about Alex Trebek, the show’s longtime host, and what it was like answering questions.

She only interacted with Trebek while filming the episode and during a commercial break when they took a photo together, she said. While she remembers what it was like “standing in that spot” behind the podium, Throckmorton said she can barely remember the game itself.

“Having played it for real, it’s a lot harder when you’re on the show,” Throckmorton said. “You’re not playing sitting on your couch. You’re playing against other sentient beings who also have buzzers.”

She does, however, remember “elocution” being the answer to a question she did not buzz in for.

“I wasn’t certain so I didn’t want to risk it,” Throckmorton said. “They call it ‘Jeopardy!’ for a reason.”

What surprised her the most from her “Jeopardy!” experience, Throckmorton said, was the camaraderie among the contestants.

“You felt like you’ve known these teachers forever, like they teach down the hall from you,” Throckmorton said. “That was a tremendous gift I hadn’t reckoned on, that I spent three days in the company of some really great educators.”

All 15 contestants received a $2,500 award from the Farmers Insurance Thank America’s Teachers program. Throckmorton said she plans to purchase Amazon Kindle devices for her creative writing class so students can see the impact of self-publishing.

“With E-readers and PDFs, that’s just instant,” she said. “They can self-publish and suddenly it’s not just on a piece of paper or in the school’s computers, it’s in an E-reader. They can go to another E-reader and find it. They can go to the Amazon website and see their work. I think that’s powerful.”

Throckmorton’s episode will be screened live from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the commons at Warhill High School. She said people should watch all 10 episodes of the tournament if they want to see “talented, good people have good things happen to them.”

“These are some really great people and I know they do good work for children. Why not watch good things happen to them?” she said.