Principal Nelson speaks on new school policies, mental health


Photo By Gurnoor Sodhi

Principal Doug Nelson dances with the HLSU (Hispanic-Latino Student Union) at the homecoming pep rally.

Last spring, it was announced that Principal Kimberly Boldon would be promoted to the role of Consulting Principal, and this school would be getting a new principal. As the first day of school approached,  students and teachers were eager to see who the next leader would be. 

New Principal Douglas Nelson is from Philipsburg, a small town in central Pennsylvania. Despite growing up in a smaller area, Nelson always had aspirations to move to a city as an adult. Nelson received his undergraduate education at Duquesne College, in Pittsburgh, PA. In college, Montgomery County was recommended as a good place to teach and Nelson started his career at Clemente Middle School. “I absolutely adored teaching, it’s always the best job and my heart is strongly in the classroom,” Nelson said. 

Nelson taught English and theater, both huge passions of his. As a Stephen Sondheim fan, he put on many school plays and his favorites are “Into the Woods” and “Grease.” Being a classroom teacher allows teachers to make unique bonds with their students, an experience Nelson misses. “I miss getting to experience a whole year of something with students. My last year in the classroom, Britney Spears was spiraling and I could start each class with the latest headline,” Nelson said.  

In his initial move to Montgomery County, Nelson interviewed for an English teacher position here before going to a different school. He eventually became an assistant principal at B-CC. Nelson has enjoyed his first months here, and is thankful for the friendliness and warmth of the student body.

The debated ‘10-10’ rule has been implemented this year, which guides teachers to keep students from leaving in the first and last 10 minutes of class. It has been controversial with some students, with complaints about practicality and excessive strictness. “I think it’s not a good rule because there’s not enough time to go in between classes and I can’t choose when I have to use the bathroom,” sophomore Anna Jeyachandran said. 

Students here are also familiar with the intense academic pressure. Test scores and grades can often be prioritized at the expense of students’ mental health and safety. “I really want students to know that making sure you’re OK and safe is critically important, students can’t do well if they’re not emotionally OK . . . grades are important but mental health is more important,” Nelson said. 

Nelson said that school should be a safe and effective place, and that clubs are a way to promote that feeling. “Clubs are equally as important to learning as the classroom . . . Wootton will be a place where students belong,” Nelson said. 

As he settles into a new job here, Nelson keeps in mind the educators who inspired him to go into education. “I believe there is not one educator who doesn’t have [an inspiration] . . . If you’re going to do the critically important work of education, [your inspiration] is your home base,” Nelson said.