February 19, 2018

San Mateo Volleyball Season Kicks Off -

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Van Jones Show:Jay-Z -

Friday, February 16, 2018

Chris Bosh Possible Comeback -

Friday, February 16, 2018

Chloe Kim: The 17 Year Old Phenomenon -

Friday, February 16, 2018

Shaun White Wins Gold at Pyeongchang -

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Biggest Problems with the NBA All-Star Games -

Friday, February 16, 2018

History of Super Bowl -

Friday, February 16, 2018

Where would you take your date out on Valentine’s Day? -

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Jeff Sessions’ History with Race Follows Him -

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Crazy Trades During The NBA Trade Deadline -

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

“Love, Simon” and representation on the Big Screen -

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Contraceptive Coverage Rollback Endangers Women -

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Rape Accusation Made Against Former “Voice” Star -

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Should Confederate statues be taken down? -

Friday, February 2, 2018

John Aguilar: Ataque Rapido -

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

“The Mini Show” -

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

‘Coco’ captura corazones de todos -

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

College Visits -

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Viaje a Teotihuacán -

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

R&B Comeback -

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Nuance of Nels

With the voice of Tom Hanks, the humor of Mark Twain, and the knowledge of Encyclopedia Britannica, it’s no coincidence that Nels Johnson has had a successful twenty-two year tenure here at San Mateo. Officially, he’s an English teacher. Unofficially, he’s a college advisor, a foreign rock aficionado, an enemy of birds, a high-end coffee consumer, and above all else, a mentor in sarcasm.

On any given day, you can witness Mr. Johnson in his natural habitat – strolling down the B-building, almost late to class, sporting a pair of his signature spectacles. Having taught each and every section of English, Mr. Johnson has seen first hand the remarkable diversity of San Mateo.

“There are kids in your class with perfect SAT scores, there are accomplished performers, there are brand-new immigrants. That’s what’s cool, and sometimes challenging, about San Mateo.”

No matter their academic stratum, Mr. Johnson always find ways to individualistically connect with the student.  Whether it’s discussing the merits of Colombian java, offering counsel on the UC application, or speculating on the point spread of the next college football game, he makes it a point to know you as a person in addition to as a student.

Despite his easy-going personality, Mr. Johnson’s curriculum remains formidable. Challenging students to look beyond the plot, he’s incredible at teaching the skill of nuance, or subtle complexities in the text. “Why is Hero named Hero? Why did Shakespeare choose illustrate over paint?  What’s the connotation of concrete as opposed to pavement?” These shades of language are critical to Mr. Johnson’s teaching philosophy – a philosophy that values the artistry of the literary craft.

Having two recently-graduated kids of his own, Mr. Johnson understands the stress of the high school student, and attempts to ease his challenging curriculum into more approachable waters. To understand the notion of the tragic hero, for example, he gives a sample presentation on the life of Eazy-E. To understand the use of clowns in Shakespeare, he plays a clip from Parks and Recreation. To understand the concept of hubris, he brings up Kanye. He’s not trying to be hip, either – he is hip. Senior Natalia Diaz adds that “he’s like the intellectual dad that’s actually really goofy and sweet.”

If you’re lucky enough to be taught by the iconic Mr. Johnson, you’ll not only receive a world-class education, but a smile on your face, and that’s why San Mateo is lucky to have him.

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