Meet Kristy Nielsen, March's Literacy Leader

Kristy Nielsen

A great teacher learns from their students. This month’s Literacy Leader, Kristy Nielsen, says she values her students because she is able to learn from them as much as they learn from her. Kristy is an ESL tutor at the Open Door Learning Center in Northeast Minneapolis. She’s been there for over a year and a half. On a typical day, she goes to her class right after work, with a prepared lesson plan, and doesn’t get home until after 9 p.m. She chose to teach beginning level ESL because she loves the liveliness of the large class size. At first, she was nervous about the work load because she already has a full plate with her full-time job, but she’s found that spending time with her students actually relieves stress. She spends break time sitting and talking with her students, answering questions and making sure that they understand the material. She clearly has a close and meaningful relationship with her students, who appreciate her very much.

Kristy says she will continue to volunteer because she loves spending time with the students and meeting new people, especially people from different communities, countries and cultures. Kristy also loves bringing fun to the classroom, including fostering friendly competition among students. “We play the flyswatter game in class, where I write a bunch of words on the white board, relating to a topic students are learning about, and divide the class into two teams. One person from each team comes up at a time and when I say a word, the first person to swat the word on the board with their flyswatter earns a point for their team. Students get excited about this activity, and sometimes competitive, trying their best to be the first to swat the correct word as their teammates cheer them on (and try to help them out), and it always ends up being hilarious!”

In her down time, Kristy likes to unwind by watching Netflix and cooking. She is also a singer and a nature-lover.

She says she loves her work environment at the Open Door Learning Center, and especially appreciates her program coordinator. “I want to mention that my Program Coordinator, Ilse Griffin, is so friendly, genuine, and helpful, and is another reason teaching at Open Door Learning Center Northeast is so great.”

We are so grateful to Kristy for dedicating her Monday evenings (and more, as any good teacher does) to literacy! Congratulations, Kristy!

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