Unlocking potential key to Mullins’ success

KINGSTON — Nancy Mullins has travelled around Central America as a missionary, been a wilderness guide in the woods of Minnesota, worked as a volunteer at schools in many states and held odd jobs at numerous points in between.

She’s finally arrived at what she believes is the most crucial of all tasks — teaching the next generation.

“I really think there’s no greater impact on the world that you can have,” she said of being a teacher. “It’s a huge, important job we do.”

The result of her passion in education and the attitude she holds for it has won her the accolades of this year’s Rangvald Kvelstad Teacher of the Year Award, one of only two teachers in the North End to receive such prestige.

Even so, she’s quick to pass off credit to all of her fellow professionals.

“I think we all have impossible, crazy, hard jobs,” Mullins said of North Kitsap educators. “We all are teachers of the year.”

Mullins, who has taught at Gordon Elementary School for seven years, has two main philosophies she brings to her fifth grade classroom: that each student must be both engaged and excited, as well as have self-confidence, if they are to learn successfully.

“I really think kids are very talented and each of them has so much potential,” she said. “You just have to unlock it.”

Mullins graduated from Idaho State University in 1971 and received her teaching credentials from Seattle Pacific University following her schooling. After a year of studying Spanish in Costa Rica, Mullins worked as a missionary in Central America. She also worked summers for many years as a wilderness guide in Alaska, Minnesota and Island Lake Camp in Silverdale. She’s taught at a variety of Christian schools in the Pacific Northwest.

Mullins became a stay-at-home mom to raise her three children in Eglon but wanted to return to teaching when she and her husband Jerome’s nest was emptied.

While Mullins is definitely a teacher, she prefers to think as herself many times as more of a classroom “cheerleader.”

“If you just show them how amazing they are, they learn to believe in themselves,” she said.

Perhaps her key as an educator, though, is the way in which she finds ways to get her students interested in topics as a precursor to learning.

“Instead of just studying something, if you get them excited about it, they really take off,” she said.

Note: Presentations of the Rangvald Kvelstad Teacher of the Year awards will take place at the North Kitsap School Board meeting, at 7 p.m. May 26. Mullins and Poulsbo Junior High School teacher Gayl TenEyck (featured in the May 21 edition of the Herald) will be on hand to receive their awards.

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