Educator of the Week: Jennifer Nelson

It’s time to recognize this week’s Educator of the Week, brought to you by the Tennessee Education Lottery.

Educator Of The Week

Jennifer Nelson has been teaching at McKenzie Middle School for 13 years. She says she’s known she wanted to be a teacher from the beginning.

“When I was growing up I lived in a neighborhood full of teachers, and they just made a huge impact in my life. So I wanted to become a teacher,” Nelson said.

Nelson loves teaching her middle school PE classes and coaching the girl’s basketball team, but she never knew that was the route she would end up taking.

“I always knew it was education, but I didn’t know it was going to be PE. I guess just because I’m a sporty kind of girl, I just wanted to do PE,” Nelson said.

Nelson says one of her favorite things about teaching is building the relationships with her students and her team.

“It would probably be just building the relationships with kids. It’s cool to watch them grow up from 5th grade to 8th grade,” Nelson said.

Nelson says the relationships with students is one of the most important things you can have.

“I always heard coming in you had to be stern and not let the students walk all over you, and that’s true to an extent, but you also need to have that relationship,” Nelson said.

But she adds that relationships with her coworkers are just as important.

“You just know they always have your back. When we have middle school basketball games, it’s a packed house here. People are texting you after games saying, ‘Hey, great win.’ It’s just awesome to feel loved,” Nelson said.

From day one, Nelson tells her students to always try their best.

“You don’t have to be the best. We’re not grading you on your ability level. As long as you participate and give a good effort, you’re going to be great in this class,” Nelson said.

But even when they leave her class, Nelson wants them to continue trying their best in everything they do.

“Be the best you can be at everything, every aspect in life. Just be the best you can be and give it your all,” Nelson said.

Nelson is now eligible for the Tennessee Education Lottery Educator of the Month award.

To vote for her or any other nominees, go to the Tennessee Education Lottery website.

To nominate an educator for our Educator of the Week award, email us at

Categories: Educator of the Week