by Christy Parrott
Educator, Nellie Thomson was recently awarded West Grand School District’s Teacher of the Year. “It was an easy choice,” Principal Jess Buller confirms. Buller was a decision committee member who helped review the award applications submitted from all West Grand School District staff. Thompson’s teaching partner for 4 years, Sara Sheets, submitted the nomination application: “She’s the teacher I aspire to be. She’s not afraid to ask for advice or do research. She’s constantly learning and improving.”
A native of Kremmling, Nellie Thomson has taught for 14 years and currently teaches the 3rd grade. “I love that I can make a difference; that I can help kids love school,” she smiles. Thompson begins each day with a student check-in, taking her time to assess each child’s emotional state before starting the days lessons. “It’s important to address their hierarchy of needs,” Thomson explains. “If they’re not safe, they can’t learn.” Thomson educates herself on the latest, advanced teaching techniques. “We have started a Projects Based Learning program,” she explains. “It gives kids a chance to make decisions and the collaborative skills to help them succeed in the future.” Thomson understands that as technology rapidly develops, “We don’t know what jobs our kids will have in the future, but, through Projects Based Learning, each student will be better prepared to approach those challenges.” Chamber Director, Tara Sharp appreciates Thomson’s approach: “Teaching is a profession that teaches all other professions, and what better example is there than Nellie Thompson.”
Principal Buller confirms Thomson’s work ethic, “Nellie is a very student-focused teacher. Her classroom decisions are directly purposed for student success.” Thompson’s school day includes a large reading block, as well as physical education and music, along with science and social studies, which also includes reading. “I want the kids to understand that there’s always reading involved, regardless of the subject.” In fact, Thomson advises parents, “Read to or with your child every night.” Thomson recommends the Dear America diary series, historical fiction narrated from an 11 year old’s point of view.
Thomson’s dedication has inspired others. Director Sharp insists, “It takes a big heart to shape little minds, and that’s an exact definition of Nellie. Her huge heart, warmth, kindness and companion leaves an impression, making her loved not only by her students but by parents and community members, as well. Grand County is very blessed to have Nellie as an educator.” Mayor and first lady, Grover and Sara Pryor agree: “This is a well-deserved award. Nellie is always willing to lend a caring hand. She takes pride and compassion towards her students, colleagues, family and friends. Having known Nellie since we were kids, we are not at all surprised with her achievements.”
As a recipient of Grand County’s Teacher of the Year, Thomson is automatically in the running for Colorado State Teacher of the Year; if her hometown is any indication of support, she’s a shoo-in.