After graduation, Jake had a summer job lined up in Montana. “I spent a few weeks working on the National Bison Range with an ecology lab from the University of Notre Dame,” Jake says. “I finished the season and decided I wasn’t as interested in field work as I originally thought.”
Thanks to additional funding from a HHMI (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) grant Luther received, Jake returned to Luther to finish his secondary education minor and student teach. “I student taught in the Twin Cities and spent the remainder of the school year as a substitute in schools around the area,” Jake says. “That spring, I was contacted by one of my education professors and he invited me to apply for a position at the charter school he was starting. After interviewing for the position, I was offered the job and accepted. I’ve spent the past year working at the school.”
Jake is an advisor at the DREAM Technical Academy in Willmar, Minnesota. “Our charter school and my position are unique because of our student-driven, project-based learning model,” he says. “Each advisor works with the same 16–18 students all day, every day. The students design projects around what they’re interested in learning about and what they hope to do in the future.”
As an advisor, Jake works with students to make sure their projects are rigorous and helps them find resources and understand material. “Every day I meet with each student and we discuss their project and any revisions or changes that need to happen to produce a quality product,” Jake says. “I love working here because I get to work all day with students who are truly engaged in their learning and take ownership over the process.”
Additionally, the academy is a teacher-led school with no administration. “That means I take on administrative tasks such as serving on our personnel and IT committees,” Jake says. “It’s a lot of extra work but it’s a trade-off I’m happy to accept to feel like I have a voice in the school and how it’s run.”
Wind and Percussion Ensemble, Varsity Band, Trombone Choir, and Trombone Ensemble; Tri-Beta, the national biological honor society, and leadership positions in both the the Biology Club and Amnesty International.
“My favorite extracurricular activities were the spring prairie burns,” he says. “I loved being a part of the land management process at Luther while indulging my pyromaniac side.”
Build relationships with your professors. With such a small student-to-faculty ratio at Luther, there really aren’t any good excuses not to! They’re available to help you if you’re struggling. Plus, they’ll write letters of recommendation for you, and the better they know you, the better their recommendation will be. I can’t count the number of opportunities I was considered for because I spent time outside of class interacting with them.
—Jake Wittman '12