Journal class

Stacey Nelson aims to lead the way for educators – Sterling Journal-Advocate

Stacey Nelson is a woman with many hats.

As administrative assistant to the principal of Sterling Middle School, she assists Bob Hall and the students. She also serves as the school’s registrar, handling paperwork and details for incoming students and those leaving the district.

This year, she took on the additional responsibility of managing the district’s Infinite Campus Services, which also means managing status reporting for the entire RE-1 Valley School District.

This, in addition to many other tasks and functions she handles, is a big reason why Kristen Hamil, who nominated Nelson for a Crystal Apple Award, calls her “the heartbeat of our building.”

“She… is the person who relays all the information to the parents and the public. She basically designed our buildings webpage and is great at keeping it constantly up to date with current information. She collects student report cards and mails them to parents, organizes student registration and our pre-registration at the start of the school year,” Hamil noted in his Nelson appointment.

“Despite all her responsibilities, she also finds the time to be our contact person whenever ‘we teachers’ have a problem with anything; planning, IC, copier does not work, etc. Stacey is always ready to lend a hand to any member of staff, be it Mr Hall, a teacher, our cooks and custodial staff,” Hamil continued. “She helps out with designing and printing sports rosters for home games as well as year-end awards for our students. Teachers are responsible for individual pricing for their own classes, but since time is always an obstacle, she has often volunteered to do them for any teacher who needs extra help.

Nelson began working in schools in 2001 in Peetz. Originally from Sidney, Nebraska, she had taken the job at Peetz and quickly learned to love the school-based work as well as the Peetz community — “This town is like one big family,” she says.

She met her Sterling native husband and moved to Sterling in 2006, working at Peetz for another year before finding the opportunity at RE-1 so she could avoid the commute.

When asked what her favorite part of her job is, she quickly replies, “I really enjoy working with educators. I have great respect for the work they do and want to try to make it as smooth as possible.

Increasingly, this has meant taking on a technology support role, including ensuring staff have access to resources ranging from email addresses to doorbells. The pandemic — “the worst years of my job,” Nelson said — has only heightened that role, with the implementation of Chromebooks and other resources for students to ensure they have Internet access and the tools they would need to participate in distance learning. Distributing these hundreds of computers without touching or coming into contact with anyone was a major challenge.

Perhaps an even bigger challenge: “We all had to learn how to help them learn remotely, it was a huge challenge for our district – but they did it.”

Nelson was proud that despite the challenges, RE-1 was able to navigate the pandemic while returning to in-person learning last year, and things are mostly back to normal at the schools.

“I’m glad it’s over, for the most part,” she said.

In addition to helping teachers and staff, Nelson’s IT duties also spill over into helping parents and students.

“Whenever a student or parent needs help accessing their IC grades, she is the one to turn to,” Hamil wrote in his nomination. “She sets up every account for them and creates credentials for them so they’re ready to go when they come into our building as students.”

And his work with students goes beyond technology, Hamil noted. Nelson said her office sometimes served as an overflow for the “behavioral child,” as she puts it, and led to conversations with students waiting to speak with the principal or serving detention at lunchtime.

“I love it when they remember me in the room afterwards,” Nelson said.

While Nelson might downplay her impact, Hamil said “she’s developing a pretty special bond with some of our toughest students. She can be an ear for them, or just give them a safe place to hang out.

Nelson said she was shocked, though appreciative, to be nominated for the Crystal Apple. For Hamil, however, it seemed entirely appropriate.

“I can’t think of anyone who works harder or puts in more hours than Stacey to keep our school running efficiently, and that’s why she so deserves this award,” she wrote.