April Nelson returns to Elbow Lake for love of family and kids

April Nelson, West Central Area Schools

April Nelson is no stranger to west central Minnesota.

Growing up in Elbow Lake, her parents were both school teachers. Her mother taught fifth grade and her father taught physical education and later was the dean of students at West Central Area Schools in Elbow Lake. In college, first at Moorhead State and later at Bemidji State, she travelled home for many of her weekends in college to visit her family. “My family is near and dear to my heart,” she said. Her strong family ties are much of the reason that she moved back to the region for work after college. Her passion of working with kids was another reason that brought her back.

Following in the footsteps of her mother, April is now a fifth grade teacher at West Central. She always knew she wanted to work with kids. She nannied and coached toss softball during her college years, but had no plans to become a teacher. “I was like, I’m not going to be a teacher, I don’t want to be a teacher,” she said. She considered a career as a pediatric nurse, “…But I didn’t think I’d be able to poke a kid with a needle. They’d start crying and then I’d feel bad, so it just kind of ended up coming back to teaching.”

Once she graduated, April wanted to return to a small-town environment, so when the opportunity came to teach in her hometown she took it. She started teaching at West Central in 2014. Although family ties were the main factor in her decision to move back home, rural living has a strong appeal to her. Smaller communities mean closer ties to the people around you, she explained, and although she won’t have as many connections in Elbow Lake as she would in a bigger city, April would rather have a few close relationships. Rural traffic makes travel around the region quick and simple. The naturally beautiful region is also attractive to her, as is keeping active outdoors, going out on the lake, or just having a bonfire with friends in the back yard.

It’s easy to see why someone like April would choose to live in west central Minnesota. Whether it’s family, community values, natural beauty or any of the other great assets the area holds, April holds the same mentality of many residents of the region when she simply says, “I love it here.”

Steve Henning