By Charlotte Underwood
CARYVILLE, TN (WLAF) – Teachers make a difference in their students lives each and every day. For many students, having a teacher who cares and goes that extra mile can be the difference in a successful education and graduation. We’ve all had that teacher who inspired us or helped in some way. That’s why WLAF and Eagle Tire Pros salute all of our hard working educators with a weekly feature.
This week’s featured teacher is Jake Nelson.
He teaches special education in the comprehensive development classroom at Caryville Elementary School. He is in his second year of teaching.
Nelson is a Campbell County native. He raises Angus cattle with his family.
“This is my choice hobby, and I am proud of my Appalachian farming heritage. Much of my curriculum utilizes horticultural therapy and place-based learning; so I hope I rouse this same pride in my students,” Nelson said.
He said it was his parents and family that inspired his career path and that they continue to inspire him.
“My parents heartily encouraged my schooling from kindergarten until now. Being a first generation college student, my family realized the weight an education held. I remember when I was accepted to the university, my grandfather referred to it as “big UT.” He was so proud,” Nelson said.
It was while he was working at the UT Institute of Agriculture in Knoxville that he began “searching for meaningful local employment.” Nelson said he “stumbled on special education and found his calling.”
“With my mother having retired from the school system as a teaching assistant and my sister, Tiffany Gwin, being a brilliant preschool teacher and Teacher of the Week alumna, I was familiar with our schools from the perspective of an employee,” Nelson said.
He knew he would have the opportunity to support students the way his family had nurtured him.
“Teaching as a career is almost a spiritual practice. It is not cliche to say it must come from the heart, and having a mother and father who were models of generosity and kindness, who held a belief in upcoming generations, is still inspiring ” Nelson said.
His favorite part of his job is advocating for students with special needs.
“People with disabilities experience inequality in today’s society. As recent as the 1990s, this community was forced to take such drastic measures as the Capital Crawl to encourage the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Continuing advocacy for students with special needs is an honor I do not take lightly. I am an ally, stewarding an inclusive educational platform,” Nelson said.
He also said he had “amazing paraprofessionals” and a “tribe of administrators and colleagues he could turn to for support.”
“To know I can reach my supervisor, principals, coordinators at Central Office, or a teacher friend so easily with such rapport means the world to an educator. If you are a fellow special education teacher, keep going – we need you! And Go Cardinals!”
Every Thursday, WLAF’s Charlotte Underwood features the WLAF – Eagle Tire Pros teacher of the week. That educator also receives a free oil change from Eagle Tire Pros. To nominate a teacher for teacher of the week honors, please send your nomination to email@example.com (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 12/01/2022-6AM)