Science Teacher Sue Nelson to Retire after 45 Years of Teaching

Science Teacher Sue Nelson to Retire after 45 Years of Teaching

Frannie Wied, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

After teaching for 45 years, Mrs. Susan Nelson has decided to retire. She started in the fall of 1978 at St. Joseph’s Academy. 

Originally Nelson never saw herself as a teacher. When she graduated from college, she worked at Proctor and Gamble as a lab technician where she found herself in various teaching roles. She realized how much she enjoyed guiding and instructing others and decided to go back to school for her teaching credentials.  

“I wanted to teach science, and the opportunity came up, and here I am,” said Nelson. After starting at St. Joseph’s Academy, she has been at NDA since the school was founded. 

Over her years of teaching, Nelson has taught a plethora of science subjects. From freshmen to seniors, she has taught physical science, biology, chemistry, earth science, and environmental science, but her true passion and love has always been for physics. 

“It’s just something I’ve really enjoyed. I really enjoy taking a complex problem and breaking it down and being able to explain that to students, so that they are able to understand it,” said Nelson. She has taught regular physics, honors physics, and, most recently, IB Physics. 

“I really try to promote STEM courses because there is such a need for that field,” said Nelson. 

There are many things that she will miss about NDA, but she will miss her students more than anything else. When she first started teaching, she knew she wanted to teach science at a high school level, but she realized that this was just a way to share what she loved with learners. 

“When I first started, it was always science. Then I realized, “No, it’s not the science,” that’s just a vehicle to work with students, and that’s the main part,” said Nelson. 

Dr. Danniel Pierre, NDA class of 1994, says that Nelson had high expectations and was demanding of her students but was also very congenial. 

“She had a steadfast commitment to her students,” said Pierre. 

Nelson enjoys that every year is brand new, and you get to meet new people and different personalities, which is what makes teaching exciting for her. 

One of her favorite memories from teaching was introducing IB Physics. It was a brand new program for the school, and it was “exciting, challenging, and a different way of learning.” She says that implementing a new program was really fun for her. 

“You are in training and meet so many other physics teachers. You rarely get 30 physics teachers in the same room, and that was exciting,” said Nelson. 

She plans on spending more time with her husband now that she’s retiring. With this extra time, she will also get to spend more time with her seven grandchildren, taking them on adventures and doing a lot of exciting outdoor activities. She’s looking forward to being more present in their lives and getting to attend their sports games. 

“We can’t go to the games that often, but now we can be more a part of their lives,” said Nelson. 

Reflecting on her many years of teaching, there have been many changes–from the invention of computer technology to the COVID-19 pandemic–Nelson says that it’s always keeping you ahead of things. At the end of the day, you are still working with people, and that’s what makes it exciting for her. 

If Nelson could tell her colleagues and students anything that she has learned over the past 45 years, she would tell them to live in the moment and not to think too far ahead in the future. 

“Time is precious, you never know how much more time you have, so you have to enjoy what you’re doing right now. Enjoy right now.”