Substitute teacher Scott Nelson ‘psyched’ for teaching position

October 9, 2015 — by Sweeya Raj and Fiona Sequeira

On Sept. 16, Scott Nelson replaced substitute teacher Erik Axelsson as the temporary Psychology and AP Government/Economics teacher while regular teacher Hana Chen is on maternity leave.

Being a substitute teacher requires flexibility and improvisation.

These are the qualities teacher Scott Nelson has needed during his time at the school so far, adapting to whatever class he has been asked to teach.

In the first couple weeks of school, Nelson substituted for the French classes, even though he is not a fluent French speaker. He did his best and kept the classes afloat while the school sought a permanent and more qualified instructor.

On Sept. 16, Nelson replaced substitute teacher Erik Axelsson as the temporary Psychology and AP Government/Economics teacher while regular teacher Hana Chen is on maternity leave.

Even though Nelson’s background is mainly in Psychology, he said that teaching Economics has been easy to adapt to.

“I’ve worked on campaigns, so I am well versed in Government,” Nelson said. “Economics has to do with business, and having run a business, I can apply my knowledge to teaching the class.”

Although Nelson has quickly adjusted to his new classes, he does not know if he will be teaching Psychology and Economics for the full semester.

“I am versatile because I spent a lot of time in school, so I will go wherever I can be helpful to the school,” Nelson said.

Like Nelson, students in his classes are adapting well to the change.

“Nelson made the transition easy by starting to teach right where Axelsson left off,” said senior Shrey Desai, a student in Nelson’s Economics class.

However, Desai also feels that the situation could have been handled better.

“It’s frustrating to have a different teacher come in so far into the semester because we have to adapt to a different teaching style,” Desai said. “The administration should have hired someone with a background in economics before the semester started.”

Nelson was born and raised in San Jose and earned his bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Santa Clara University in 1989. At the University of Hawaii, he earned his master’s degree in Psychology.

For 10 years, Nelson stayed in Hawaii and worked in the public school system as a counselor and a wrestling coach. While in Hawaii, Nelson, also operated his own commercial boating business and worked on the workboats at Honolulu Harbor.

According to Nelson, educators in Hawaii “just aren’t paid enough,” and he began working at a law firm to support his family. Eventually, Nelson, his wife and their son moved to France to be closer to his wife’s family.

Recently, Nelson moved from France to the Bay Area to help care for his father, who has Alzheimer’s disease. His wife and son are still in France, and he travels between the U.S. and France to visit his family every couple of months.

“They are waiting for me to be re-established,” Nelson said. “I’m doing contracting work including substitute teaching, but my ultimate goal is to get a permanent position in California that has health benefits. As soon as that happens, my wife and son will join me out here.”

Despite the changes he’s gone through this semester, Nelson hopes to make the most of his opportunity and ensure that his students are learning everything they need to.

“I try to bring my real-life stories to class because it’s easier for students to recall something on a test if they have some sort of life story to connect to the topic,” Nelson said. “My priority is that [students] are getting the best education.”

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