Eric Nilsson named Steamboat Springs School District Educator of the Year |

Eric Nilsson named Steamboat Springs School District Educator of the Year

Energetic Educator: Eric Nilsson in his science lab.

— Steamboat Springs High School physics teacher Eric Nilsson uses a hands-on approach to relate concepts to students on their level.

“When they walk out of class, they realize the whole world is physics,” said Nilsson, who starting working in the Steamboat Springs School District in 2007 after a career in engineering.

Nilsson’s enthusiasm for teaching and his ability to connect with students were some of the reasons Nilsson was named last week the district’s Educator of the Year for 2015.

Nilsson was nominated for the district-wide honor alongside Soda Creek Elementary third-grade teacher Shannon Forbes, Strawberry Park Elementary severe needs special education teacher Jessica Charpentier and Steamboat Springs Middle School Spanish teacher Julie Warnke.

A committee of staff and community members interviewed the candidates and selected a winner last Tuesday before announcing the selection to staff. Nilsson and the three other nominees will be recognized during a school board meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Steamboat Springs High School, 45 Maple St.

High school Principal Kevin Taulman said it is Nilsson’s ability to interact with students that made him a worthwhile choice for the honor.

“Eric is just a special breed,” said Taulman, who is in the midst of conducting interviews for new teachers in the district. “When it comes to teaching, some people have the skills and some people don’t. And he does. He is a natural teacher — he just has that gift.”

Taulman said Nilsson makes connections with students and knows something about each and every one.

“He’s that teacher that stands in the hallway and greets every student that walks in the door,” Taulman said.

Nilsson is also recognized for his revitalization of the high school’s physics program, boosting enrollment in the class, which is an elective that satisfies a science requirement, from 18 students in 2007 to more that 200 this year. More than 100 students are also enrolled in Advanced Placement physics classes for next year.

Nilsson was also recognized in 2013 as Best School Teacher, grades nine to 12, in the Best of the Boat contest.

The Steamboat Springs School Board began recognizing a Teacher of the Year in 1985 and updated the honor to Educator of the Year in 2013 to provide an opportunity to recognize counselors, specialists, paraprofessionals and other non-administrative educational staff.

The award is meant to recognize any district employee who cultivates positive relationships, contributes to an effective classroom and has become a leader in the schools and community, according to a district statement.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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