West Springfield High School Newspaper

The Oracle

Adios, Mrs. Nelson!

Beloved English teacher retires after 23 years

Journalism+and+AP+Lang+teacher+Brooke+Ramey+Nelson+reacts+to+the+fire+marshal%27s+orders+to+redecorate+Room+215+in+the+spring+of+2004.
Journalism and AP Lang teacher Brooke Ramey Nelson reacts to the fire marshal's orders to redecorate Room 215 in the spring of 2004.

Journalism and AP Lang teacher Brooke Ramey Nelson reacts to the fire marshal's orders to redecorate Room 215 in the spring of 2004.

Journalism and AP Lang teacher Brooke Ramey Nelson reacts to the fire marshal's orders to redecorate Room 215 in the spring of 2004.

By Meg Wilder, Oracle Editor

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Brooke Ramey Nelson has been a Spartan for longer than any student here has been alive, but this year she’s decided it’s time to say goodbye.

The English teacher, who’s taught for 23 years, leaves behind a legacy that includes thousands of students, numerous awards including WS’s “Teacher of the Year” Award, the University of Chicago’s Outstanding Educator Award, and her go-to slogan: “It’s only high school.”

Nelson taught AP Lang as well as headed the Journalism Department, teaching both Newspaper and Yearbook along with Journalism 1 classes. She was well-known for her high standards for her reporters and editors, expecting them to possess the responsibility and professionalism needed to be real journalists.

“She didn’t just teach us journalism; she taught us how to create and hold deadlines, how to manage ourselves and our peers, and how to create something wholly by ourselves and to be proud of it,” said Sydney Spicer, Class of ’15.

Spicer was a writer and editor for The Oracle during her time at WS. “My time in her class was the best part of my high school experience, no question.”

Nelson’s passion for her subject and her students was clear from the moment she stepped into Room 215, earning her Fairfax County’s “Outstanding New Teacher” award after her first year of teaching. She quickly found her place at the school, easily earning a positive reputation as a teacher whom students could go to for advice.

“I think she understands the kids of today, how they think,” said fellow teacher Anne Wynne. “I think she’s in touch with today’s youth.”

Having spent the first 15 years of her life with a severe stutter, Nelson never would have expected that she’d end up a high school teacher. Perhaps because she lacked verbal abilities, she poured her heart into writing at an early age, even publishing her own neighborhood newspaper, which she called The Ramey Reader.

Her writing skills led her to pursue a career in reporting. She travelled to six out of seven continents, writing for The Dallas Morning News and The Washington Post before settling down as a high school journalism teacher, much to the benefit of all WS’s aspiring writers.

“She helped me understand the power of English,” said Liz Weiderhold, Class of ’06. “She was a huge influence on me becoming an English teacher myself.”

Nelson’s classroom has been a safe haven for her students during her time at WS, offering a place where words and expression flow freely, loudly, and boldly. Teachers in neighboring classrooms would often comment on how energized her students seemed.

“There was never a boring day in Nelson’s classroom,” said Devon Nelson, Class of ’16. “She made such a lasting impact on the journalism program. I don’t think it will ever be the same without her.”

If there’s one thing Nelson will be remembered for, it’s her love for her students. The beloved teacher will be dearly missed by students and staff alike.

“[Nelson] gave me the tools to develop a voice and a platform to share it,” said Caitlin Lidsey, Class of ’08. “She made a difference every day and I’m happy I could be one of [her] many students over the years.”

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Adios, Mrs. Nelson!