Meet the Thurston Team
This week we are pleased to highlight:
Teacher - Social Studies
Birthday: July 21
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Mission Viejo and remember what a small town feel it was back in the day. My dad was Director of Public Works for the County of Orange and I grew up always learning about the big projects he was working on in Flood Control, Bridges, Freeways, and all kinds of interesting stuff. He really nurtured a love of learning and sports. I loved baseball and became talented in piano, volleyball, and languages and even competed in high jump with a 6’4” leap.
After a year of school in Norway, I attended George Mason University and played division 1 volleyball. In college, I interned for a California Congressman in D.C. and really enjoyed my time on the East Coast. Somehow I ended up back in California and worked in many different jobs from graphic design to real estate appraisal and mortgages but I really loved my 6 years as a working actor in Los Angeles.
Upon deciding to take my teaching credential, life really changed fast. It was the greatest decision in my life and really used all my passions and abilities. I love working with kids and especially am passionate about history and helping students become lifelong learners and citizens of the world.
I’ve been married eleven years now to Erin and I have a stepdaughter Madison age 25. We bought my childhood home and I still play in a very successful Yacht Rock band named Yachty by Nature. We play all over the country and have been on national TV on the Rich Eisen show. It’s been quite a ride and fun to have a creative outlet besides school. I’ve been teaching 14 years now and adore the community of Laguna Beach, it’s where I’ve always played volleyball and bodysurf. My nephew Trey now plays for the volleyball team at the high school and I love seeing him achieve success in volleyball as well.
Best advice you can give students
Find a way to LOVE learning and never stop learning!!!! It will fuel your passion for life and help you go for what you really want in life.
What fad or trend do you hope comes back?
Skating!!!! Those were the glory days of my youth when most birthday parties, etc. took place at the skating rink and it was the most amazing music and magical feel cruising around in circles to those 70’s and 80’s groovy tunes. Bowling wouldn’t be too bad either and of course, we had Skateway and the bowling alley right next door to each other in Mission Viejo. I guess I’m really trapped in the 70’s because my band plays that stuff still today. It was such a nice escape from the daily grind of things ☺
What is the luckiest thing that has happened to you?
I’d have to say, the luckiest day in my life was when I came by the LBUSD district office when I had finished my credential and wanted to drop off a resume and say hi. All hiring was done electronically but I decided to swing by and as luck would have it, they had just finished interviewing for a social studies position and they kindly allowed me to interview because I had accidentally dropped by at the perfect moment. The interview went amazingly well and I got the job!!!!!! And here, 14 years later, I’m still the luckiest guy ever with the greatest job ever. Each day I drive to Thurston, I always think about that momentous occasion where I would have taken a job anywhere in the world and somehow I landed in the very city I deeply loved. It’s been a dream come true from day one!
What one thing do you really want but can’t afford?
We have a HUGE backyard and I would love to build a music cottage or casita in the back. Unfortunately that’d be $100,000 but it’s always fun to imagine a large music room kinda like Daryl Hall has for his show Daryl’s house where he jams with other famous musicians in a very cool venue on his farm.
What is one of your favorite smells?
The smell of fresh oil based paint and drywall. These were smells from my childhood when my dad was building a bonus room in our house that still take me to a magical place in my mind. It’s a memory smell and easily transports me back in time to when I was young.
What are the top three things you want to accomplish before you die? How close are you to accomplishing them?
To play music with a Yacht Rock legend like Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, or Toto, visit Machu Picchu, and live in Italy for a year…Not very close to reaching any of those, but they are long term hopes and dreams that I’ll keep plugging away at and one of these days when the time is right, I’m sure I’ll get a couple of those things done. In some ways, these would be miraculous, but fun to have hope that luck will strike one of these days!
Thank you Mr. Nelson for participating in our Thurston Team interview!