Taking the reins

Principal Greg Nelson speaks with Emily Broome, administrative assistant at Conrad Elvehjem Primary School. Nelson was formerly the associate principal and interim principal at the school.

Greg Nelson, the new principal of Conrad Elvehjem Primary School (CEPS), hopes his history at the school will provide a sense of security for the school’s community.

“I know the struggles they’ve been through,” he said. “In my time here, going into my eighth year, I’m the fifth principal that this school has had, so there’s been a lot of change, a lot of uncertainty.”

Nelson will start as the new principal of CEPS this upcoming 2019-20 school year. He has been part of the school since 2012 and worked in various leadership positions.

“I hope that they can look at me and see someone who has started here, who has stayed here and wants to be here,” he said.

Nelson grew up in Delevan and received his bachelor’s degree in Spanish from UW-Madison. After teaching 4-year-old children for a year, he realized he wanted to continue being an educator. He received his master’s degree in special education from UW-Whitewater.

He began teaching special education at McFarland Primary School (MPS) in 2012 and remained in that position for three years. He said working with and building relationships with teachers and students was one of the best parts of the position.

In addition to working with students at CEPS, he volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters. He and his little brother, a 10-year-old boy from Sun Prairie, enjoy cooking, playing games and reading together. Nelson also has a pet hedgehog who sometimes goes to work with him at CEPS.

“All of my experience has been with elementary-aged students, and I feel like because of that, I’ve kind of honed my ability to connect with them and get down on their level,” he said.

He had the opportunity to become the teacher on special assignment (TOSA) for both MPS and the Conrad Elvehjem Early Learning Center when it was for kindergarten and early childhood students. He worked with the principal to support teachers and implement new school policies.

He said the opportunity to work with more teachers so more students were impacted made him excited to pursue a leadership role. While his was still TOSA, he received his license as a principal and director of instruction from Virterbo University.

The TOSA position was temporary, and as it ended, he accepted the position as associate principal of CEPS.

Nelson was the associate principal for one month before the school’s principal left for personal reasons. In October 2018, he became the interim principal for the remainder of the school year.

He accepted the full-time position as CEPS principal this past spring.

He hopes families find a sense of belonging in the school community and students enjoy learning.

“(The students) love learning and love reading, and through that process, they’re interests get sparked,” he said.

He said he wants to make teachers feel supported.

 “(I want to make sure they) have tools and skills they need to feel successful for students, and my job is to make sure that happens,” Nelson said.

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