The class is run by David Ostergren, who joined the program in 2008 after almost 30 years of experience in outdoor education and recreation in Minnesota, West Virginia and Arizona. According to Jimenez, however, it took much more than a good teacher and administrator to get her through her college experience. This will be her third time graduating from GC, where she has also earned two undergraduate degrees.
“I keep telling people there’s that saying that it takes a village to raise a kid, and for me, I feel like it took a village to get me graduated all three times,” Jimenez said. “Everything from super-supportive classmates to involvement of family — my grandparents, my aunt, my friends, my housemates, my brothers — so it kind of took this whole web of support to get me through here every time.”
Her plan now is to try and find a job.
The third and final member of the program’s initial year is Todd Weston. He also discovered the program while searching online for schools with environmental education courses.
“This program had a really intensive K-12 teaching program involved with the actual schools, and I wanted to actually be able to teach kids while getting my education, so I thought that just looked pretty super and it’s been great the whole time,” Weston said.
For him, much of the joy in the program came through working with kids.
“You get a lot of freedom to teach kids — with supervision — but there’s not someone over your back the whole time, so you learn what you can do and what you can’t do, what you’re best at, what age group you like the best,” Weston said. “Some kids are good with kindergarteners, some people are better with high-schoolers. I was given the opportunity to really flesh out my teaching ability here.”
Weston’s new goal is to get his teaching certificate so he can work in the classroom.
“I want to be an environmental educator in the classroom so I get 100 percent kids,” he said. “No off time, just pure kids all the time.”