Brett Nelson
Fifth Grade math/science teacher, Lower School STEM team

970-925-1909 x231

Known and loved for his kind smile, warm demeanor, and nothing-is-impossible attitude, Brett arrived at Aspen Country Day School in 2002. With four years away to teach in Chile, he has taught almost every subject area at school, having served as a Spanish and science teacher, Outdoor Ed assistant director, math coordinator, and now Fifth Grade homeroom/math and science teacher. Brett also drives a school bus, traveling daily from Carbondale, where he lives with his wife, a former ACDS teacher, and their three daughters. He has a BA in biochemistry and environmental studies from Iowa State University and a MS in education from Buffalo State University.

What three items are essential to you?

Water bottle, coffee, and sunglasses. Sunglasses rather than my regular glasses, because sunglasses mean that I’m outside, and that’s my favorite place to be.

Favorite Aspen Country Day School core value?

I’m a huge fan of all our ACDS core values, but one that really resonates with me is “Community.” Simply put, the strong community here is the reason I’ve been working here since 2002. I truly believe that the community as a whole comes together during times of celebration, during times of trouble, and during times of challenge and opportunity. The families, the teachers, the students, and the administrators all play such amazing roles in the sense of community at ACDS. It’s a genuine and authentic trait that keeps our school moving forward every year. We work together as one big team to keep our students feeling safe to make mistakes, to help them to feel valued, to put their best feet forward, and to eventually soar.

Three guests for your dream dinner party?

Definitely Neil Young, one of my all-time favorite musicians. Also Edward Abbey, who wrote about the American Southwest. And then of course, since I’m a science teacher, Einstein. I would like to get his sense about schooling, because I know that he didn’t have a great career as a young student. And it’s surprising that someone so smart would have such a hard time with education. What it was that didn’t work for him, and what did work? I want to know so that we can continue to cultivate bright young minds.

Scariest thing you have ever done?

Having children, because suddenly you’re responsible for these three little beings that are completely dependent upon you. Keeping them healthy and safe — it’s way more challenging than I ever thought.

Something we wouldn’t know about you?

Before I became a teacher I used to play bass guitar with a band that traveled around the country. It was called The Nadas. This was right after college, before I had a family. We were up late every night, playing music, just meeting people from all over. And now I’m still playing music; (Middle School teacher) Mark (Sumera) and I play in a bluegrass band with a few other folks.

Something that was cool when you were younger?

Fast food restaurants. Kids would just meet up and hang out at McDonald’s and Burger King and eat a whole bunch of terrible junky food. But now kids don’t think that’s cool. I think that’s for the better.

Student interview: Bode M., Brett, and Jay Z.