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Teacher of the Year finalist pushing students to be better people

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Posted at 5:59 AM, Feb 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 07:59:58-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — Automotive instruction is more than a profession for Andrada Polytechnic High School teacher Jim Nelson.

"I never thought I'd be able to do this for a living," said Nelson. "But this is a dream come true."

Jim Nelson's dream is teaching auto mechanics to students at Andrada Polytechnic. He oversees a three-year JTED program in the Vail District.

"We do everything, everything bumper to bumper on a vehicle," explained Nelson.

Nelson encourages his students to get multiple certifications, preparing them for future careers.

He proudly shows off a map charting where former students go. He uses it as motivation for his current students.

"I have a couple kids work at Tesla up in Scottsdale. There's people working for the railroad and construction industry. It's endless what they can do."

Nelson sees his role as more than just an automotive instructor.

"I'm not pushing to make all these kids mechanics, I'm pushing to make these kids better people for society."

Nelson is one of nine finalists for the University of Arizona Online Outstanding High School Faculty Award.

The winner will be announced March 7.