Q&A: Isabelle Nelson Learning to Teach in Challenging Times


05/17/2023

As Isabelle Nelson prepares for graduation, we sat down with her to discuss her decision to attend St. Ambrose University, her upcoming graduation with a Bachelor of Arts in English with Secondary English Education and ESL endorsements, and her new role with Teach for America. She shares her passion for writing and talks about the book series she co-authored with her father, and how she plans to share it with her students. She also discusses her approach to teaching, emphasizing the need for flexibility and adaptability when dealing with the challenges and pressures that come with the job.

Q: How did you first decide to attend St. Ambrose?

A: Although I did not grow up in the Rock Island area, my mother is from there, so I was already familiar with St. Ambrose. Initially, I had plans to attend culinary school, but before my senior year of high school, I changed my mind and decided to pursue my interest in education instead. After visiting the St. Ambrose campus, I knew it was the right fit for me, thanks to the close-knit feeling and the friendly people I met during my tour.

Q: Congratulations on your upcoming graduation. How do you plan to use your Bachelor of Arts in English with Secondary English Education and ESL endorsements?

A: Thank you! I just accepted a position with Teach for America, and I will be moving to Atlanta two days after graduation.

Q: That's great! What will your role be with Teach for America?

A: I will be teaching Secondary English in South Atlanta, where their mission is to address equity and diversity within schools. We work to make a difference in schools that are underfunded and underserved.

Isabelle Nelson


As Isabelle Nelson prepares for graduation, we sat down with her to discuss her decision to attend St. Ambrose University, her upcoming graduation with a Bachelor of Arts in English with Secondary English Education and ESL endorsements, and her new role with Teach for America.

Q: Why did you choose to pursue the English as a Second Language endorsement?

A: Dr. Edwin Ubeda played a significant role in my decision to pursue the ESL endorsement. He encouraged me to try it out, and since I already had some Spanish language ability, it made perfect sense. Although I had initially planned to go the bilingual route, I did not have space in my course load. However, I love teaching ESL, and it has become my favorite thing to teach.

Q: Where are you currently teaching?

A: I am teaching college prep composition and literature to sophomores and juniors at United Township in East Moline.

Q: I heard you are a passionate writer. Can you tell me about the book series you are working on?

A: Yes! The English department at St. Ambrose has been instrumental in nurturing my passion for writing. I recently won the Sigma Tau Delta award for my poetry and published my first novel, Annie Abbott and Druid Stones, last spring. It's a young adult fantasy novel that I co-authored with my father, and we just sent the second book of the series to the publisher last week.

Q: That's incredible! Do you plan to share your Annie Abbott series with your students?

A: Absolutely! I would love to read those adventure stories to my students. The series started as a reflection of the adventures my dad and I had together, but it has grown into something much bigger.

Q: As a teacher, how do you approach the challenges and pressures that come with the job?

A: As a student who experienced the challenges of lockdown, I have learned to approach teaching with greater flexibility and adaptability. I have come to realize that I cannot take everything so seriously and that I need to be willing to adjust and find out what works. When things don't go well, I try to maintain a sense of humor and make adjustments accordingly because kids are not always going to do what I want them to do.

News
news

At SAU, hard work = recognition. Here is a list of full-time students who were named to the St. Ambrose University Dean's List for the Fall 2023 term. These students earned a GPA of 3.5 or higher (on a 4.0 scale).

Read More About Fall 2023...

News
Celtic cross on St. Ambrose Campus

This is a turbulent time for higher education, both nationally and here in Iowa. Students, families and state leaders have questions about value, relevance and trust

Read More About Catholic Higher...

News
news

Legacy families are not new to St. Ambrose University. There are many family trees whose branches are laden with proud Ambrosians, but the limbs of the Henkhaus and Gannaway trees are especially ripe with St. Ambrose history.

Read More About A Thousand...

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? Click on the visit button below to learn more about our virtual and in-person visit options.