Glen Gilderman, National Fellowship, Cohort 3

State and City of Residence:

Proctor, Minnesota

Job Description (grade level taught, position, title, etc.):

Social Science Teacher, Grades 11, 12 - Psychology, American Government, Geography, Sociology

Why do you work in education?


I really like working with kids. I like pushing them to heights they never knew they could achieve. I discovered this when I did some volunteer coaching when I was a freshman in college. I watched kids grow and learn and get better and I wanted to do that in a classroom, too. I changed my major from Physical Therapy to teaching and it's the best decision I've ever made!

What’s your favorite part about being an America Achieves Fellow?

It's awesome to be able to get together with other educators who are as passionate about the possibilities of education as I am. The enthusiasm is contagious and whenever I talk to another fellow, I am energized. If I ever get discouraged, I know some of the lifelong friends I have made are an e-mail or phone call away. I also loved the travel and learning about how to effectively impact education policy, both nationally and in my state.

If you could change just one thing about our current education system, what would it be?

I would make a few fundamental changes. If we are to differentiate instruction to students, we need to change the way we see our students. We need to invest in greatly reducing class sizes so we can find out where our students need extra help or where they need to be challenged. Finding that balance in a class of 30 for 50 minutes a day is really tough. It's the toughest job we have, but it's worth it!

What’s the best thing a student ever said to you?

"What you do, matters!" When students come back to visit when they are in college or working and share that they are using the things they learned in their lives, it's very rewarding. (Especially when they learned some sort of life lesson that is now making their life better!) Students who are struggling and use something they learned from me as a teacher and/or coach fuels me and reminds me how essential and truly important this career is to our World.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

My mother. From the time I was little, she was the eternal optimist. She taught me so many lessons: the importance of citizenship and voting, how to treat others with kindness and respect, how to work hard, the importance of education, how to be a parent, how to persevere... There are so many more. She has passed now, but she left me with many lessons to pass on to my children and my students.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I'm trying to get a project off the ground. In a nut shell: I want to get students across this great country talking to each other. Students of different races, different social economic statuses, different states, and different political views talking about everyday life during our classes. I want fellows to match up their students with other fellow's students with a few objectives to accomplish. The most important objective - to widen each other's perspectives. If you are interested - please e-mail me -