Magazine article Techniques

Gigi Gano Ekstrom, Outstanding New Carrer and Technical Teacher

Magazine article Techniques

Gigi Gano Ekstrom, Outstanding New Carrer and Technical Teacher

Article excerpt

Gigi Ekstrom says that she became a teacher completely by accident. She had started her own business after leaving her marketing job at Campbell's Soup Company and was teaching part time in the travel and tourism department at a community college. She was then asked to teach a dual credit course at the high school, and now she can't imagine doing anything else.

Ekstrom teaches at Thomas Jefferson High School in Dallas, Texas, a school where the majority of the students are considered at risk-economically disadvantaged students make up 70 percent of the school population. Eighty percent of the students are Hispanic; fifteen percent are African American. Since Gigi Ekstrom began teaching there in 1996, the students in her marketing and travel and tourism classes have achieved successes that would be impressive for any group-much less an atrisk group of students.

Ekstrom says, "it never crossed my mind that they couldn't do it."

Creating Self-Confidence

Her belief in them made them believe in themselves, and more than 80 percent of them have gone on to college. This year, 100 percent of her seniors were accepted to college, and 100 percent received scholarships. While about half of her students go on to study either marketing or travel and tourism, Ekstrom tells them that it doesn't matter what they study; she just wants them to find something that makes them happy. Her students accounted for the vast majority of seniors at the school that received scholarships, so now she is also doing workshops, tutoring and helping with financial aid applications for students who are not in her regular classes. …

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