GILLETTE, Wyo. — Rozet Elementary teacher Christy Nelson is retiring after 40 years as a Campbell County School District educator.
Nearly all of that time, she’s cared for kindergarten students at Rozet Elementary, Nelson said. She started her career in special education before becoming a classroom teacher and also taught for a few months at Rawhide Elementary. Leaving teaching is scary, exciting and emotional.
Helping children adjust to entering school has been one of her favorite aspects of being a kindergarten teacher.
“They come not knowing really anything about school, other than if they’ve gone to preschool,” she said. “They’re kind of an empty slate, and you just start to begin to shape them and teach them to love school.”
Over the years, she has found herself telling the kindergarten students things that she never thought she’d have to tell another person, like “Don’t lick the carpet,” “Don’t lick your friends” and “Where did you find that gum?”
Some of her favorite classroom memories include the delight children have when they get to hold baby chicks or allow butterflies to fly off their hands. It’s also wonderful to see the excitement of a student who realizes that they can read and to hear children say, “I love you, Mrs. Nelson.”
“It’s probably the most rewarding career that you can be in,” she said.
While she plans to come back and read and help with some school activities, Nelson is looking forward to spending more time with her 10 grandchildren, going on longer vacations and engaging in her hobbies, which include crafting cards, cross-stitching, bowling and golfing, she said.
Nelson has lived in the region her whole life. She was born in Gillette and lives in Moorcroft.
“She will be greatly missed,” fellow Rozet kindergarten teacher Julie Rankin said.