Nicholas R. Howe was born in Port Jefferson, New York in the early 1970s. At the age of three, his family moved to Hamden, Connecticut, where he grew up and attended the local public schools. He attended college at Princeton University, where he chose to major in physics. Graduating in 1993, he joined the Teach for America program and spent two years teaching at a small rural public high school in Arkansas. From there he moved to Ithaca, New York, where he spent the six subsequent years as a graduate student in computer science at Cornell University. He began teaching at Smith College in the fall of 2001. He lives in Florence with his wife and two children.