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Shelly Neilsen – Deerfield Elementary School

Shellie Neilsen is the best teacher our family has had in the 20 years our 6 children have been attending school. We moved here from Boston, and one of our biggest fears was that we would be compromising the quality of our children’s education. We were used to a level of professionalism that we didn’t think existed in Utah, and Mrs. Neilsen has exceeded our expectations in every way. Not only is she an exceptional master teacher, she is the nurturing parent-type teacher every child would be blessed to have care for them.

Our son entered 6th grade with a poor opinion of himself and struggled in all areas of his life. He is very young for his grade and had academic and social challenges to overcome. He did not enjoy school and his attitude reflected this. From the very first day of Mrs. Neilsen’s class we watched a beautiful transformation. He wanted to go to school because he felt wanted. The curriculum was interesting and presented in a way that did not seem like work. Mrs. Neilsen has such high expectations that her students accomplish things they never thought they could. She leaves room for individual strengths and celebrates each individual, while nurturing a classroom community where everyone is wanted and accepted. Our difficult son is now BYU bound, bright and optimistic about a future in computer science. He credits Mrs. Neilsen with giving him the gift of perspective.

Since then, we have had a daughter and close friend experience the same transformation. I have worked closely in this classroom as both substitute and volunteer and have watched absolute miracles occur as children develop a genuine love for learning and desire to excel. Mrs. Neilsen has made it possible for our children to thrive and because of her example, I returned to school to get my masters in education so I can repay her gift to others. If I can impact even a few lives as she has hundreds, it will have been worth it. We will always be grateful for the selfless service and example of Shellie Neilsen.

-Carolyn Hamilton