Andrew Kohler '14
Andrew started out as an adventure education major when he came to Green Mountain College, based on the advice of his friend who was enrolled. Andrew hadn’t been on the college track until his friend told him that Vermont, and GMC in particular, was “the place to be.” The small homey environment reeled in the Connecticut native when he visited campus.
Andrew hadn’t taken any significant adventure education courses by the end of his freshman year but ended up becoming certified as a lifeguard and water safety instructor.
“That was probably the most important thing I’ve done at Green Mountain College,” Andrew says.
It opened up the door to some excellent job opportunities as a swim instructor in neighboring Burlington and back home in Connecticut. But what was most important about being certified and becoming a part-time swim instructor was not the financial benefits but the epiphany it provided. Andrew found joy and satisfaction on the job teaching the elementary aged children to swim.
“I started to think, ‘I could do this. I could teach,’” he said.
And so, he started his sophomore year off by changing his major to elementary education and hasn’t looked back since. Andrew was surprised by the amount and depth of work Green Mountain's education department charges their students with.
“People think, ‘Elementary school teachers. That’s easy, you just have to relearn all the easy stuff.’ But they’re wrong,” Andrew says.
He was fascinated by the knowledge that students' minds are vulnerable at early ages and require specific approaches in order to fulfill potential.
Andrew was most compelled by the idea of differentiate instruction where teachers craft lessons differently to ensure all students comprehend the material. Students come to class with many different kinds of intelligence and Andrew understands the importance of reaching out to all students so that no one feels left behind. He also understands the importance of engaging the students in the classroom in order to help foster a love for learning early on.
“If a kid doesn’t get something that everyone else seems to, that kid can start to form low self-esteem when it comes to school,” Andrew believes.
Thankfully for students, Andrew is a naturally engaging personality as is evident to anyone who has seen him perform in the theater. Though his enthusiastic and friendly nature lends itself perfectly to the stage, his first show was only last year when he had a small role in “The Madwoman of Chaillot,” auditioning at his roommate’s suggestion. He fell in love with performance and found it an excellent diversion from the stresses of academia.
His favorite role to date is when he played Prior in “Angels in America: Part One” this past fall. Only having been in a handful of productions, the lead role was an enormous challenge. Andrew rose to and his natural talents, engaging and delighting his audience with his performance.
Last semester, Andrew found an independent study called Shakespeare Under Lock and Key that mixed his new-found love of theater and penchant for teaching. In the independent study, he and two other students spent time at a local correctional facility helping the inmates put together a performance of “Henry IV.”
Andrew says, “The idea kind of scared me, but that's how I knew I should do it. I like doing things out of my comfort zone.”
After Andrew completes his student teaching next semester, he plans to take some time to hike the Appalachian Trail and then travel across the country visiting different school districts he may be interested in working. He already has his sites set on Maui, Hawaii—he was captivated by the land and people during his visit there six years ago. Wherever Andrew ends up, he'll be bringing his enthralling personality and passion for teaching.
By Sara Bishop '16