Faces of UVU: Andrea Neilson

Andrea Neilson with elementary classroom in background

Major: Elementary Education

Graduated: 2012

     While participating in the college internship program at Walt Disney World, Andrea Neilson realized she loved working with children, but wanted to educate and teach rather than just entertain them.

            With that desire in mind, she enrolled in the two-year elementary education program at Utah Valley University. Andrea attributes much of her success at UVU to the way the professors engaged with her. She specifically recalls Ann Sharp and Elaine Byrd as professors who were personable, who “made learning really fun.” In fact, Andrea would go on to incorporate her professors’ styles into her own classroom.

            Andrea remembers meeting former UVU President Matthew S. Holland at a local restaurant, where she was working while attending school. He had just been announced as the new president of the university. She introduced herself as a student. She said he spent a lot of time visiting with her, discussing her education. “I have had the privilege of speaking with President Holland a few times. He was always so kind, and had a great presence about him.”

            When Andrea graduated from UVU with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2012, the Beehive State actually had a surplus of educators — which created a very competitive job market. She was able to secure a position as a sixth-grade teacher at her first-choice school: Rock Canyon Elementary School in Provo. 

            Andrea has enjoyed teaching at Rock Canyon during the past six years. For 2017-18, the Provo City School District named her as the teacher of the year for Rock Canyon Elementary.

           She says she loves her students, and that she has made a concerted effort to be an engaged educator to assure their success.