Not all teachers grow up with their hearts set on becoming a teacher. In fact, many discover their talents for teaching and helping others only as they go through high school and college. Lori Nelson, middle school English Teacher in Woodward-Granger, is the perfect example of that genre of teachers.
After attending Northeast Missouri State during her freshman year of college, Nelson transferred to Iowa State where she made the decision during her sophomore year to become a teacher. "I didn’t always know I wanted to be a teacher," Nelson reveals. "I considered other things, mostly going to law school, farming, or going into social work. "During my sophomore year at college, I came to realize that teaching might be a good option for me. I started taking some education classes and decided to stick with it. It wasn’t until I had taught a few years, that I really decided that I wanted to keep doing this."
Not only was she unsure about becoming a teacher, she didn’t know what she would teach. "I originally thought I wanted to be a social studies teacher, but one of my college advisors talked me out of it. Then I picked English as I have always loved to read and write," Nelson explains. As for the decision to teach middle schoolers? "I have taught both middle and high school classes. I definitely prefer middle school. Middle schoolers are curious, funny, and able to learn independently; my days are never boring."
Although she started out teaching at Adair-Casey for the first five years of her teaching career, Nelson knows she ended up in a school district that is the perfect fit for her, noting that she loves that W-G is a smaller district, "small enough that teachers can really get to know their students."
"It is difficult to say (what her favorite part of the job is). I have great coworkers, people that are hardworking and truly trying to do great things for kids. But, probably the best part is seeing kids become really excited about reading. To watch them not only acquire the reading skills, but the passion for books is incredible."
Not only instilling a passion for books and reading, Nelson shares that the most rewarding part about her position is feeling that she can make a difference for a kid. "One student told me years after graduating that she never would have made it through the chaos of middle school without me," Nelson recalls.
"I hope to continue in the classroom and to get opportunities to spend more time mentoring," Nelson reflects. "I hope we as a society decide to invest more in education and make some important changes to public schools. I hope my kids continue to receive a quality education."
Lori Nelson grew up in Dallas County and has lived here for most of her life. She and her husband live on a family farm outside of Minburn with their two children, Hannah and Jacob. Hannah is a sophomore at W-G; Jacob is a sixth grader at Perry Middle School.