St. Olaf College | News

Why do Oles make the best teachers?

At St. Olaf College, Andrew Atwood ’18 had professors who inspired him. Conductors who encouraged him. And coaches who mentored him.

Those connections created a powerful liberal arts experience that propelled Atwood to pursue a career as an elementary school music teacher. Now he’s cultivating a classroom for his students that mirrors the experiences he had at St. Olaf.

“We do a lot of singing and dancing and creating and exploring with instruments and voice,” Atwood says about his work with students at Cornelia Elementary School in Edina, Minnesota. And, he notes, they learn together. “There is a lot of knowledge that students bring through their own experiences. Even if they’re five years old, they know other languages — or they’ve had experiences that other kids haven’t — and all of these different things that they bring in is one of the most enriching ways that you can make a classroom.”

Andrew Atwood photographed at Cornelia Elementary

Learning how to relate to people of all ages, connect ideas, and draw upon multifaceted perspectives are all skills that Atwood honed at St. Olaf. While earning a bachelor of music degree, he sang in Viking Chorus and Chapel Choir, spent an Interim studying multicultural education in Hawaii, and competed on the varsity swimming team. He also studied a wide range of subjects and explored various academic interests as part of his liberal arts education.

“I see my education at St. Olaf coming out in many different ways in what I do now,” Atwood says. “Having that expansive knowledge of a lot of different things is really helpful.”

Andrew Atwood photographed at Cornelia Elementary