Just for the moment, Nicole Throckmorton is a local celebrity.
Throckmorton, who has been teaching at Warhill High School in James City County since it opened in 2007, will appear on Tuesday as a contestant in the syndicated TV game show "Jeopardy!" And recently she has been getting a reminder of just how popular "Jeopardy!" is.
"I've had perfect strangers come up to me and ask about it," Throckmorton said. "The other day, we had a school function for the inductees to our English honors society. One of the grandmothers got so excited meeting me, because I sat next to Alex Trebek."
The show airs locally at 7:30 p.m. weekdays on local ABC-TV affiliate WVEC channel 13.
Throckmorton, 42, said she is a lifelong "Jeopardy!" fan. She began trying to get on the show six years ago.
It's a lengthy process. Of the 100,000 or so who take the online test each year, about 3,000 are called to in-person auditions, which are held in various cities. Do well at the audition and your name gets put on a list from which the show's producers will select about 300 contestants to be on the show.
Throckmorton made it to the audition phase in 2013 but did not get picked to be on the show. She made it again last spring and her audition in Atlanta went well. When the producers learned that she was a teacher, they asked if she wanted to be considered for the 2016 Teachers Tournament.
She taped her appearance in Los Angeles on Feb. 24 and was amazed at how a studio set that looks so cavernous on TV could be so small in person.
"We were all teachers, so when we began talking backstage it felt like we knew each other," Throckmorton said. "But there was a point when I was standing out there ready to play, and I looked at the two people next to me and realized, 'This is a thing that's really happening.' It was an amazing moment."
Contestants are not allowed to discuss the results of their appearance until after the episode airs. Ask Throckmorton if she won any money on "Jeopardy!" and she says dutifully mum.
But she will tell you this much: Farmers Insurance, the presenting sponsor for the tournament, provided each participating teacher with a $2,500 educational grant to be used in the classroom. She plans to use that money to buy about 20 Amazon Kindles, which she hopes will lead some of her English composition students to try the self-publishing function.
"It's one thing to read what you've written out loud to the class," she said. "It's totally different to put it out there so that you know other people can be reading it. That's something that really legitimizes it. Hopefully it lets them see the value in writing."
Holtzclaw can be reached by phone at 757-928-6479.
Want to watch?
Warhill High School teacher Nicole Throckmorton's appearance on "Jeopardy!" will air locally at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on WVEC-TV channel 13.