The Professor is in: Old School teacher believes in today’s youth

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Andrew Weitz

Charles Nelson believes that everyone is a lifelong learner. In terms of formal education, it’s safe to say he’s among the most scholarly teachers at SHS, with bachelors degrees in science and history, a masters in geophysics, and a doctoral degree in environmental sustainability.

His higher education is apparent to students right from the get-go, and anyone who has participated in his classroom lectures knows that his teaching style is derived from college professors rather than traditional high-school teachers. “Educators that pursue upper level degrees bring more to the classroom, and after all, that’s what we’re here for.” Said Nelson. Though his courses are challenging and the subject matter is unadulterated, you’d be hard-pressed to find a bored student in his classroom.

He wastes no time in diving right into the course material, which he presents in a thought-provoking and compelling manner. Senior Owen Bensel said “He’s a really good teacher. His class is a lot more lecture-oriented. It’s what you’d expect from a traditional college course rather than a high school course.” Bensel also noted “He’s a really cool guy.”

Rather than “putting on the clown suit,” as Nelson calls it, he trusts that the material he teaches is innately interesting, and that the best way to captivate students is to present that material in a pure, no-nonsense manner. “I think Mr. Nelson has a very old-school teaching style that students respond well to.” Said senior Mikael Meek.

As an educator, Nelson makes sure that what he teaches goes beyond the classroom. “I believe that we need to add value to life.” he said, “There are so many things that diminish value in life, so when I get on the podium, I’m hoping to somehow add value or relevance.”

Meek agreed “He can relate everything he teaches to a broader life lesson, and how it can make you a better individual.” Nelson recognizes that his role as an educator is about more than just passing on information. “As a teacher, you’re not just somebody who knows something. You need to be somebody who knows something more so that you can enhance the lives of your students…If we can impart understanding that helps an individual improve their quality of life, we’ve done our jobs.”

Aside from being a teacher, Nelson is a classic car enthusiast and an avid outdoorsman. Nelson grew up on a ranch in Eastern Wyoming. “I really enjoy being outside,” he said. He enjoys elk hunting and fly fishing, and believes that when it comes to these outdoor pastimes, “It’s more about the going than the getting.”

What’s Nelson’s advice to graduating seniors? “The only thing that money can’t buy is a sunny disposition.”