Teacher to Some, Role-model to All


Eileen Nelson standing in front of her classroom, smiling.

When Eileen Nelson attended James Madison University for two years, she never expected to become a high school teacher. Nelson was a social work major with the intent of becoming a juvenile probation officer, who after college began a career in sales in marking and government contracting.

After getting married and having kids, Nelson decided she would stay at home for her kids while also continuing her college education. When she was forty, Nelson received her English degree from George Mason University, and at fifty she finished her teaching certificate and received her master’s degree.

Nelson has been a part of the Hylton community for eight years now, serving as an English 12 teacher and the AP English Literature and Composition teacher, as well as the head of the English department. During her time at Hylton she has helped students flourish and grow into bright individuals and has become a beloved member of the school.

“She [Nelson] is like a mom to me and has always been there with the best advice… and I really look up to her.” said junior Makinley Hunziker.

Being open with her students is incredibly important to Nelson. She believes that students deserve honesty, especially in classroom.

“I think you [the students] deserve role models that are true to who they are,” said Nelson. “I think that’s how you learn how to trust people: when they’re honest with you.”

Nelson’s openness has lead to the creation of her remarkable legacy at Hylton. She discusses controversial topics in class and engages students and their opinions. It has made her stand out amongst other teachers.

Students not only enjoy discussions in her class, they also feel safe and comfortable to talk to Nelson about their personal issues.

“It’s not just my job to make sure you get the curriculum; it’s getting you ready for the next phase of your life.” said Nelson.

Nelson’s devotion has made her a favorite among the students and she has been a line leader at graduation for almost as long as she has been at Hylton. It is almost an unspoken rule that Nelson leads her seniors during the biggest day of their lives.

Aside from teaching English, Nelson sponsors the Junior Civitans club and is the head of the English department.

Junior Civitans is a a leadership based club that is a chapter of Junior Civitan International.

Nelson enjoys sponsoring the club and watching students come out of their shells to help lead. She makes sure the club leaders do everything on their own. “I sit back and I watch… A lot of times they’ll ask me to do things and my answer is, ‘well go figure it out.'”

Next year, Hylton will have a new social justice class which will be taught by English teacher Tiffani Washington and Nelson with help from English teacher Shannon Moore. The class will focus on social justice from different viewpoints, and at the end of the year students will create an advocacy project.

Since there will only be a few teachers teaching the social justice class, there will only be about 50 students able to take it. Though the scheduling process is still unclear, interested students will likely have to write an essay to be selected for the class.

“We’re [Washington, Nelson, and Moore] really excited about this class,” said Nelson.

Anyone interested in the social justice class can see Nelson in room E152.