By Molly Moser
The Clayton Ridge School District will hold a public open house in honor of retiring Superintendent Allan Nelson on Thursday, May 28, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the elementary multi-purpose room. Nelson served as Clayton Ridge superintendent for 13 years, beginning July 1 of 2002 with his retirement becoming final this year on June 30.
Nelson was born in DeKalb, Ill., and raised on a farm near the community of Sandwich. He graduated from Sandwich High School and attended Joliet Junior College while working on the family farm, then earned both Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in agricultural education from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
After working for 15 years as an agricultural education and FFA teacher, Nelson decided to earn administrative endorsements. For over two decades following those endorsements, he served as a principal and superintendent in three rural school districts, including Clayton Ridge.
“During those years, my wife, Sheryl, and I raised two children, Matthew and Kimberly,” said Nelson. Sheryl is a high school English teacher in the Starmont Community School District, and both of the Nelson children graduated from Clayton Ridge High School. “Matthew lives in Elkader and works for RISE Ltd. Kimberly completed her Bachelor of Arts in English at Buena Vista University and works for Stelter Company in Des Moines,” the superintendent told The Press.
Challenges throughout Nelson’s tenure at Clayton Ridge include the declining enrollments and statewide budget cuts experienced by many rural Iowa schools, as well as the merger between Guttenberg and Garnavillo school districts, the closing of the Garnavillo elementary school building, and the recent defeat of a bond referendum to address the deteriorating 1903 school building and outdated facilities at the Guttenberg site.