Top Notch Teacher: Brian Olson

After being in a certain job for so many years, sometimes we just need a bit of a change. Teacher Brian Olson knew he needed to shake things up after teaching the same subject for years, and what he did has become an important lesson for his students.

As students head into his classroom, Olson takes time to greet them one by one.

“Good morning. Good morning,” Olson said as the students hurry in before the class starts.

For 16 years, Olson taught earth science at La Crosse’s Lincoln Middle School.

“I felt that I needed to do something a little different but not too drastic of a change,” Olson said.

He wanted to stay at the school and still as a teacher. So when a position opened up about two years ago, he went from teaching earth science to teaching U.S. history.

“It’s not that I didn’t like it, I just wanted a different challenge at that time,” Olson said.

That spirit of change exemplifies his teaching style. He’ll play music from the Civil War era one day and switch it up the next by giving the students new projects or activities to do on their iPads.

“Utilizing that to keep them engaged and hopefully interested in the subject matter,” Olson said.

It’s this approach that has made David Eber enjoy the class. Before this year, he wasn’t a big history fan.

“I was not until this year. I think, this year, he has cleared it up for me and it’s making it seem a lot more entertaining and enjoyable,” said Eber, a student at Lincoln Middle School.

He said both the subject matter and the teacher are the reason for his change in attitude.

“Because, if you have a really bad teacher, it could be your favorite subject, but you could just not like the classroom at all,” Eber said.

Eber and his classmates are preparing for a big change with the start of high school just a few weeks away.

“I know I have nothing to be nervous about but it’s a big transition and I don’t know if I’m ready for it yet,” Eber said.

But if the students have learned one thing from Olson, it’s that sometimes, change is only the beginning.

“That’s one of the reasons why I changed subjects is that I’m hoping to always be learning something different, that we never stop learning, no matter what age you get to be,” Olson said.

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