Honoring Mr. Nelke, beloved teacher and friend

Mr. Nelke poses with the burrito he burned in the microwave after accidentally setting the timer to 30 minutes instead of three. The incident earlier this year set off the fire alarm and was recounted with humor by
many of his coworkers. When the firefighters arrived, some were even his
former students! Photo courtesy of Shawn Rainwater.
Mr. Nelke poses with the burrito he burned in the microwave after accidentally setting the timer to 30 minutes instead of three. The incident earlier this year set off the fire alarm and was recounted with humor by many of his coworkers. When the firefighters arrived, some were even his former students! Photo courtesy of Shawn Rainwater.

On May 29, beloved math teacher and varsity girls soccer coach Kent Nelke passed away from cancer. His 18 years at Inglemoor have left a tremendous impact on those who knew him, and he will be remembered for his silliness, his passion for soccer and his devotion to his students. Some students and staff shared memories of him, which are printed below. Our hearts and thoughts are with those who knew and loved him.

 

Senior Emily Rockwood (she/her), who had Mr. Nelke as a math teacher for two years and soccer coach for four, said there are no negative memories associated with him.

“In his math class, I just remember him up there teaching, and he’d always make these little jokes that I guess other people thought were dumb, but I would sit in the back of his class, and I would just think he was the funniest person ever. I was always laughing in the back of the class. Always the only one cracking up laughing.”

 

Fellow math teacher Tammy Wright (she/her), who worked with Mr. Nelke for about 15 years, said that his love for the soccer team was something she would hear from him and students every year.

“I heard that a day or two before he passed, he was on a Zoom call with all the coaches in the district here to make sure that his girls were taken care of. And when I heard that, I was very moved.”

 

Junior Sammy Snorsky (she/her), who met Mr. Nelke the summer before her freshman year at soccer training, said he taught her how to be resilient.

“He taught me to really be a leader and keep my head up, not fall down and want to quit.” One of her favorite memories of him occured this year during practice. “We were getting new jerseys, and we were going in — we, the juniors —we had to go in and he showed us what the new jerserys were and he had customized one and it was the ugliest thing ever, but nobody wanted to tell him and it was the funniest thing ever.”

 

Senior Caroline Sheehan (she/her), one of the varsity girls soccer captains, said that Mr. Nelke taught her to never stop loving the game.

“If I ever had a problem or if I ever needed something, I knew that he was a person I could go straight to. And that’s just the type of person he was like, not only for people on the soccer team, not only for me, but anyone in his life.”

Sheehan described Mr. Nelke as a funny, caring coach who had a huge impact on the school and girls soccer community.

“Every other high school soccer coach in KingCo has had such a fantastic relationship with him… I can just see the way that he interacts with so many other people that he can have that big of an impact on them.”

Fun fact, Sheehan said, Mr. Nelke loved Disney World.

“I made fun of him for a little bit about that one. I love Disney too… And anytime I would tell him, I was like, ‘Oh, I just went to Disney World. This was my favorite ride and this was my favorite park,’ he would just shake his head and be like, ‘No, you’re just wrong. Your favorite ride should be this, and your favorite park should be that.’”

 

Junior Iris Donley (she/her) said that everyone knew him in a positive light.

“He’s one of the few math teachers I’ve never heard complaints about. And everybody wanted him as a soccer coach. If they played soccer, everybody I knew was like, ‘I want to be on varsity so I can be with Nelke.’”

 

When sophomore Lily Condon (she/her) met Mr. Nelke at her freshman year soccer tryouts, she thought he was a bit scary, but she knew he was a kind person.

“He reminded me of my grandpa, and he was really committed to soccer, which my grandpa was, too.” As she got to know him, she said he made soccer — and school — less intimidating.

“The time that I was with him was just really special, because it was my beginning of high school and it sucks that he wasn’t able to be here for the whole thing, but it was just really special to me that he made it a softer environment. He talked about school, not just soccer, and how it can be easier if soccer can be an escape. And he helped us with that during practice.”

At practice, Condon said that Mr. Nelke helped the team build trust with each other with specific drills and team bonding. He found interest in everyone, she said.

“He’s Nelke. You can remember him always…He’ll always come to mind when I think of high school.”

 

Junior JayJay Maclean (she/her) had Mr. Nelke as a math teacher for two years.

“He would crack jokes when you least expect it. And he was always trying to help, but he was definitely a bit of a funny guy.”

 

This year, junior Katie Le (any pronouns) took Mr. Nelke’s Algebra II/Trigonometry class. She said he was a teacher who connected with his students.

“For me, math is always just a subject I really did not like, and sometimes I just struggle to retain math. But his teaching, I feel like there’s something that really stuck with me.”

 

As Sally Anderson (she/her), Math Department Head, wrote in an email,

“Honestly, I’m having a hard time summarizing Kent. Kind, funny, sarcastic, team player, and all-around great guy. He loved what he did, whether teaching or coaching, and gave it his all. He loved his family and spending time with them: camping, going to concerts, and most of all going to Walt Disney World!”

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Claire Meng (she/her)
Claire Meng (she/her), Web Editor-in-Chief, Co-Business Manager
Junior Claire Meng is thrilled to be back for her third year on the Nordic staff as the Senior Web Editor and Co-Business Manager. Her goals this year are to amplify Nordic’s social media presence, take captivating photos and report on hidden issues. Outside of Nordic she’s an assistant coach at Seattle Badminton Club, flutist in SYSO Youth and president of Inglemoor’s math club. She loves book shopping and lemon cookies.

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    Srikar NekkantiJun 21, 2024 at 11:59 PM

    Mr. Nelke was so nice. He was my Algebra II/Trigonometry teacher last year. One day, there was a partner activity assignment, but I was absent that day because I went on a vacation. So the next day I talked to Mr. Nelke about it and then he said “don’t worry, I can excuse you on it”.

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