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Janice Bloom

Janice BloomShe had never been hiking. She had never been camping. She had never slept outside on the ground, and she had never done anything difficult or frightening in her life.

"It was my freshman year in college and I wanted to do something challenging," remembers Janice Bloom.

The ability to tackle new challenges is something she has embraced. Janice recently returned from a hiking trip in Chile, taking 15 city kids from New York's East Side Community High School along with her. "NOLS was my first experience of taking something that was hard and overcoming it," says Janice. "Since then, I've done a lot of traveling and a lot of things that were really scary and hard. I came away from NOLS with a feeling that the outdoors was something I belonged to and that belonged to me."

Janice teaches English and social studies in the inner city public school. More than 80 percent of her students come from low-income families. Opening up the outdoors to these students, many of whom have never been outside their neighborhoods, has become an important element in her teaching.

"The teaching I do is all about challenge and the kind of leadership that I learned at NOLS is like that," says Janice. "For these kids, most of them are the first in their families to finish high school or go to college. It's a lot like a NOLS course, taking someone who has never experienced something and making them believe that they can do it."

Janice was so impressed with her NOLS experience in 1988 that she returned for an outdoor educator's course in 1997.

"As an educator, doing NOLS put me back into the student role, which I think is incredibly important for teachers," says Janice. "We ask our students to do that every day; as a teacher you need to continue to put yourself into that student role."

After that course, Janice went back to school fired up and excited to bring the experience to her students. The next year, a scholarship made it possible for a young woman to attend NOLS. "She had the time of her life," remembers Janice. "She came on the (recent) trip to Chile and it was apparent that she has grown so much from that course. As a teacher it is one of the deepest pleasures you can get to watch your students grow like that. She had clearly learned so much about leadership and sharing what she knew, as well as looking out for the group."

NOLS is also reaching the other teachers at East Side Community High. This past summer, a third teacher from the school came to the wild country of Wyoming with NOLS.

"NOLS is a model of how to run an organization and to have an organization grow in a way that is responsible and deeply thoughtful," remarks Janice. "I've worked with a lot of organizations and I'm always so impressed that NOLS continues to do things well, do things softly, but well."

Grad Profiles in Alphabetical Order

Pete Athans
Janice Bloom
David Breashears
Diane Brinkley
Carlos Buhler
Caroline Byrd
Archie Clemins
Columbia Crew
Mike DiDonna
Chris Gergen
John Grunsfeld
Ryan Hughes
Bruce Jacobsen
Sebastian Junger
Tom Kiernan
Alex Matthiessen
Tori McClure
Kitty Phillips
Guy Santiago
Tom Scott
Kat Taylor
Terri Watson
Louisa Willcox

 

Courses for Educators - NOLS offered its first course specifically for outdoor educators three decades ago.
Photo: Deborah Sussex

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