An exceptional and distinguished educator for more than five decades, Professor Emerita Joan C. Nielsen at Morningside University in Sioux City, Iowa, has worn her present title with equal parts humility and pride since 2021. Securing degrees that solidified her foundation early in her journey, Ms. Nielsen earned her Specialist in Education in 1996 and Master of Science in education and elementary administration in 1992, both from Drake University, in follow up to completing her Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Upper Iowa University in 1973.
Having taught classes in teacher education and as part of a teacher preparation program, Ms. Nielsen’s overall responsibilities when she was an associate professor at Morningside University from 2001 to 2021 included training and mentoring student teachers, serving as an interim department chair, working with graduate and undergraduate programs, gathering information about teacher performance, writing grants that launched an English as a second language program that she monitored and maintained, and more. Concurrently, she was a grant manager for Project Proficient at Morningside College from 2012 to 2018. Previously, also in Iowa, Ms. Nielsen was the elementary principal and the curriculum director for the Odebolt Arthur Battle Creek Ida Grove Community School District from 1996 to 2001 after serving at Battle Creek Public Schools teaching kindergarten from 1990 to 1996 and third grade from 1973 to 1991.
Ms. Nielsen is the president and a chapter leader of the Kappa Delta Pi education honor society and a member of the Phi Delta Kappa professional organization for educators. Pondering her career highlights, she believes her achievements lie in the profound impact she has had on the educational journeys of countless students with varied backgrounds across multiple locations. Her unwavering passion for the betterment of students has been the focus of all her endeavors and witnessed by students and colleagues. Additionally, to quantify a small fraction of her efforts, Ms. Nielsen has played a pivotal role in securing grants totaling approximately $3 million, which have been instrumental in supporting diverse educational programs. Also dedicated to connecting her profession to caring for her community, she sponsors scholarships, donates to charities, and volunteers locally.
Ms. Nielsen openly expresses her deep sense of gratitude for the abundance of teaching and learning opportunities she has had throughout her career. Whether in the capacity of an administrator or a teacher, she says she always found a way to connect with her profession and relate it to her personal identity as a lifelong learner. She counts her experiences of teaching students of all ages, from kindergarteners to university students, as a blessing, as it has allowed her to gain invaluable insights into the best ways to reach and engage her students. Ms. Nielsen considers herself fortunate to have had the privilege of being a teacher and a student and is grateful for the wisdom and knowledge she has gained along each path. Viewing her success as being the result of collaborative efforts as well as being in the right places at opportune moments, Ms. Nielsen strongly believes that it takes a team, rather than an individual, to achieve success as demonstrated the numerous times she has worked closely with colleagues when delivering compelling presentations in Washington, D.C., for instance, and on other key projects.
Married and the mother of her beloved late son, Ms. Nielsen, is optimistic about her future. She plans to continue her learning journey while serving others, despite challenges in education related to shifts in government support for public and private schools. Having extensive experience in both types of education, she ambitiously hopes to be a valuable resource for teachers and students. Her goal is to help educators feel more confident and respected in their profession while advocating for education to be given the priority it deserves in society.